- The first novel by Alexandra Lebenthal
, "The Recessionistas" will be released August 9, (Grand Central Publishing hardcover, $24.99; 320 pages).
The debut novel from CEO and socialite Lebenthal is about four socialites whose perfect Upper East Side lives get turned upside down when the economic collapse wreaks havoc on their pampered existences.
It's the day after Labor Day
, 2008, and the bottom is about to drop out of the economy. Hedge fund owner John Cutter is in the process of an ugly divorce and nearly in financial ruin, except for the assets he is hiding from his wife Mimi in the Cayman Islands. When he concocts a scheme to redeem himself, he enlists Lehman Brothers investment banker Blake Somerset as an accomplice. Blake is ripe for recruitment given that he, too, is on the verge of being in dire financial straits because of Lehman's decline and imminent bankruptcy. Blake's socialite wife Grigsby is barely aware of her changing world to begin with, and has no idea of the perilous situation her husband is about to enter. As autumn unfolds, Grigsby's fairytale life starts to unwind. Meanwhile, John and Blake's scheme comes to light when street-smart Renee Parker begins her new position as John's executive assistant. Convinced something is amiss, she enlists her friend Sasha Silver, CEO of Silver Partners, to help her decipher what is happening. This story of expulsion from a modern-day Garden of Eden captures what happens when economic decline spells ruin for Manhattan's pampered elite.
This is an insightful and distressing read about the lives of four women (and their husbands) that searingly depicts the capriciousness of the wealthy and those who purposefully and intentionally crave the world these women live in.
Lebenthal is the socially prominent President and CEO of Lebenthal & Co, and its wealth management division, Alexandra & James Inc. Her father is Jim Lebenthal
, who made his name in municipal bonds. She also serves as a board member of the School of American Ballet
and is involved with several other leading New York cultural institutions including the Business Council of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
, the Capital
Campaign for the Museum of the City of New York, the American Museum of Natural History, and the New York Botanical Garden.
Lebenthal truly followed the old axiom to write what you know, and she certainly must know characters of this ilk, as her descriptions of the lifestyles, desires, wants and needs is for lack of a better term "right on the money."
What is equally revealing in this first novel is Lebenthal's obvious expertise when describing the vast world of Wall Street, although sometimes the insider jargon and machinations she describes may be a bit too detailed and somewhat confusing to the average reader, she does manage to keep the multiple intersecting storylines interesting and appealing.
A fun and easy page turning read with enough name dropping to keep the fashionistas, and anyone else who has ever visited, socialized or mingled in this world engaged in the outcome. Don't think the end is predictable - it isn't.
GCP and Alexandra Lebenthal collaborated with Judith Leiber
to create the crystal rendition of the New York City
skyline featured on the book's cover. Leiber along with actress/model Molly Sims
will host an event during Fashion's Night Out on September 10 to benefit one of Lebenthal's causes, The Rita Hayworth
For more information go to www.hachettebookgroup.com