Think “Bonfire of the Vanities”. It is the 1990s on a London securities trading floor. Quants and dark pools have not yet had their day, and the age of brokerage puffery and bravado is in full swing. The heroine is Geri Molloy, an Irish woman without OxBridge pedigree, who has the mathematical acumen of quants, but is her firm’s biggest producr because she captured the exclusive interest of the recluse billionaire investor Felix Mann on a cold call. Geri has her dose of testerone and melds with the boys will be boys, while retaining an undercurrent of feminine mistrust of this institution. As superficially strong as she is in business, she is actually weak in relationships. The novel explores both facets of her life, as they intertwine.
The novel by Aifric Campbell was Long Listed for the Orange Prize. The plot mirrors Ms. Campbell’s career to some extent, as she walked away from being the first woman managing director of a City trading floor, exchanging her Morgan Stanley career for motherhood, creative writing and teaching. The novel exposes the veneer of traders on the verge of the oncoming ice age of algorithms.
The book is fast paced, but it takes a plot twist that for me goes off the rails. Psychological victim does not need to morph into physical captive. It made me wonder about the editor, who may have been trying to check off all of the current pop fiction cliches. The ending also has the air of sequel or movie script.
In spite of this, it is an entertaining summer read, particularly for those who want to mix the business-lite, and relationships genres.