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Book Review: Hedge Fund Wives

June 1, 2009

Hedge Fund Wives

Tatiana Boncompagni
Avon Books May 2009 304 pages $13.99

Hedge Fund Wives reads like part voyeurism and part social commentary, wrapped up in a fine tale of a woman’s self-discovery.  Marcy and her husband, John, have moved from Chicago to New York, following John’s job as a hedge fund manager at Zenith.  After giving up her job at a bank, and suffering a miscarriage, Marcy finds herself in the new city, attending parties as her husband’s arm candy, and feeling lost in this super-rich new world.

Marcy’s narration strikes just the right tone of awe and skepticism, name-checking prestigious brands and detailing the lavish homes and food the other hedge fund managers and their wives  seek out.  A gossipy, frothy confection of a great beach read, this romp through New York’s high society wasn’t something I’d have picked up on my own. (TJ Dietdrich, of Planned TV Arts sent it my way. Thanks, TJ!)  But, having read it, I’m glad I did.

Inevitable comparison to Candace Bushnell’s world of designer shoes and designer drinks.  I think Hedge Fund Wives rises above, with more heartfelt characters, and a more edgy sense of humor, snappy and a little sarcastic.  Much more my speed.  I’ve tried, and failed, to read The Lipstick Jungle and that other Bushnell one that’s not Sex and the City.  Not sure why they didn’t grab me, and Hedge Fund Wives absolutely did.

This is a comedy/drama of manners- of social structures and strictures.  Some characters, like the scheming Ainsley, come across as caricatures, open for mocking.  I  remember, in various English classes and subsequent book discussions, characterizing some books as comedies of manners, designed to point up skewed social constructions.   And these shopping wives with their opulent Oriental decor, or a very funny bit about John and Marcy’s ostentatious “eco-friendly design” echo those themes.

So- will an English class, centuries from now, be reading Hedge Fund Wives as a guide to the social structures and ideals of the 21st century upper classes?  The thought strikes me funny, but also rather apt.  And although the author has tied Marcy’s every possible conflict and desire up in a tiny bow of perfect, with an improbable race to a “four years later, everything’s wonderful” epilogue, I would certainly like to enter that world again, with Marcy, or another similarly misfit character as my guide.

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