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Maureen Sherry’s funny insider novel about a female Wall Street executive also trying to be a mother and a wife is a “compulsively readable…cheeky—and at times, romantic—battle-cry for any woman who’s ever strived to have it all and been told by a man that she couldn’t” (Entertainment Weekly).
It’s 2008 and Isabelle, a thirty-something Wall Street executive, appears to have it all: the sprawling Upper West Side apartment; three healthy children; a handsome husband; and a job as managing director at a large investment bank. But her reality is something else. Her work environment resembles a frat party, her husband feels employment is beneath him, and the bulk of childcare logistics still fall in Belle’s already crowded lap.
Enter Henry, the former college fiancé she never quite got over; now a hedge fund mogul. He becomes her largest client, and Belle gets to see the life she might have had with him. While Henry campaigns to win Belle back, the sexually harassed women in her office take action to improve their working conditions, and recruit a wary Belle into a secret “glass ceiling club” whose goal is to mellow the cowboy banking culture and get equal pay for their work. All along, Belle can sense the financial markets heading toward their soon-to-be historic crash and that something has to give—and when it does, everything is going to change: her marriage, her career, her bank statement, and her colleagues’ frat boy behavior.
Optioned by Reese Witherspoon who called it “smart, biting, and honest,” Opening Belle is “funny, relevant, and often shocking….Even if your own life is far from a fairy tale, it will allow you to laugh, learn, and maybe even lean in—to hug your own family a little closer.” (The Washington Post).
The subject matter interested me and I couldn't wait to read this book. While it was compelling at times,, it didn't grab me the way I hoped. When the heroine, Belle refers to the woman she employed to take care of her children---a woman presumably working as many hours as Belle herself---as "caregiver",and describers her (at the behest of a colleague implying that Belle's husband was probably engaging in a sexual relationship with her) as "Hispanic looking"---I was hoping that the author was intending that to be an ironic aspect of the same dilemma Belle found herself in, you know, undervalued---exploited---a little sexism and racism thrown in for some realistic grit. Unfortunately, while the social mirror was an accurate reflection it came across as unintentional and tone-deaf. Which pretty much summed up the whole book for me---an interesting concept which failed to live up to it's potential.
Very good read but almost too realistic
This book - with its women professionals story line & mortgage crisis focus - was fascinating. The author, having been a broker for years, provided excellent credible insight in to the world of a woman professional. It was so realistic, in fact, that I found myself a bit depressed by the story - likely a telling & solid recommendation. Well written.
Worth 5 star, highly recommend
First book I gave 5 star on iTunes, really worth it. It is the first novel I know that describes the secrete world in investment banking around 2008 and it touched so many issues that concern a working mother like me. I live far away from New York where the heroine Belle lived and is not privileged in any way, but this book connects with me. It hit my heart. Made me cry and laugh sometimes. And this book is full of surprising turns. Highly recommend.