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review 2017-04-09 05:52
The Widow of Wall Street
The Widow of Wall Street: A Novel - Randy Susan Meyers

By:  Randy Susan Meyers

ISBN: 9781501131349

Publisher:  Atria Books

Publication Date: 4/11/2017 

Format:  Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars 

 

Randy Susan Myers returns following Accidents of Marriage (2014) with her latest riveting domestic suspense, THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET bold and edgy an inside look at betrayal in a marriage.

The blind love, lies, dark secrets; the unraveling, devastation, and the need to rebuild a life after the fallout of Wall Street and a fraudulent husband's Ponzi scheme. Was the wife living in denial?

Phoebe and Jake met when they were teens. Jake and Phoebe come from different backgrounds. Jake is obsessed with money and success. He wants and needs a different future than his childhood. He thinks this will earn him the respect he craves.

Phoebe makes a wrong decision, leading her to guilt and loyalty to Jake. They marry, despite her overbearing mom’s warning.

He soon excels and opens a brokerage house. Things go well. However, soon greed, power, and money get in the way. He is dishonest. He thinks it is temporary. He has a private fund. A Ponzi scheme. A crime soon to be uncovered. The time bomb. Fraud.

Phoebe is blind to it all. The money is flowing – wealth, prestige, homes, and power,

Starting from Nov 2009, we learn Jake is now in prison. They have lost everything. Phoebe takes a Greyhound bus to the upstate NY correctional prison. She despises him. He still has her under his thumb, worrying about what she is wearing and appearances. He still has not acknowledged his part in the disaster.

However, Phoebe is struggling. She has taken her husband’s side over her children, causing a huge strain. Her children are strangers to her now. She must face Jake’s crime. The wife of a demon.

Her entire marriage had been a battle against being known only as Jake’s wife—now she feared the battle could be over for good. She had become a widow to a living man and a childless mother.

How did they get to this place? People wondered if she knew. Was she this naïve? She trusted this man. Her life is shattered. How many people has he fooled? A monster.

The author takes us back to the early days to the 1960s, where we hear from two points of view: Phoebe and Jake. The roller coaster ride from mansions, and wealth to prison.

When yet another tragedy occurs, Phoebe is forced to make a decision. She has to cut Jake free, even though he felt he could straddle the world on other’s people’s legs. Love and loss. Survival. He had squandered and cheated people and fooled millionaires, and lessons never learned.

Can Phoebe survive this disaster and come out whole once again? A different person perhaps?

The author does an outstanding job with the couple's journey from both perspectives. What a ride. The dark secrets of a husband and his scheming. A financial empire crumbling. The betrayal. From domestic suspense to psychological.

If you enjoyed the Madoff miniseries, (good), assured to find THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET engaging. Of course, in Palm Beach we hear his name often; however, Trump has taken over the spotlight here on the island.

Randy Susan Myers tackles highly charged topics, telling deeply personal stories of women. Their complexities, fear, pride and despair are woven brilliantly into the absorbing narrative.

Fans of Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain, (A Stolen Marriage) Kimberly S. Belle (The Marriage Lie) and Liane Moriarty (Big Little Lies) will appreciate the complex relationships and the emotional inner lives of women in crisis.

Read the backstory.

A special thank you to Atria and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/09/01/The-Widow-of-Wall-Street
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review 2009-12-22 00:00
Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend - Mitchell Zuckoff There is something almost admirable about the charming rouge who swindled the people of Boston out of millions in the 1920's. Zuckoff does a fine job of conveying why so many people risked their life savings on Ponzi's irrational promises of easy money. On some level Ponzi seems to have believed his own con and genuinely thought he could make everyone rich just by robbing Peter to pay Paul.
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review 2009-07-01 00:00
Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend - Mitchell Zuckoff It seems appropriate to finish this book a day after Madoff was sentenced to 150 years. The parallels to today's economic crash and Madoff are striking. A charismatic personality, connections with those in power, "too big to fail syndrome," a gullible and avaricious public coupled with an adoring media had people rushing to give Charles Ponzi their money. He was raking it in so fast that he reached $1 million per week with the possibility of $1 million per day not impossible.And this at a time when the average annual wage was $2,000. He promised returns of 50% in 45 days. Of course, those who cashed in early, willing to take a terrific return but not willing to spin the wheel more than once, did well. Part of the secret was the hint of secrecy, exclusivity, and his charming personality.

Ponzi was an Italian immigrant of financially comfortable origins who landed in New York. He discovered that the streets were covered in an inch of mud rather than paved with the gold he had been promised. He had never worked a day in his life, but over the next four years managed to work at a number of humble jobs finally landing one as a bank teller in Canada. He soon became involved in a scheme at the bank and for his efforts was sentenced to prison in Canada. After his release, he figure it would be wise to return to the U.S. but ever the schemers he became involved with some other Italians and they were arrested at the border, he for suspicion of assisting illegal immigrants. He pled guilty, believing he would get a light sentence but was stunned to get a two-year sentence in a federal penitentiary in Atlanta. (Why they didn't ship him back to Canada seems bizarre.) Anyway, the Atlanta federal prison was pretty cushy, it having been ordered by the feds, I suppose, for the inevitable time, when the legislators might have to go to prison and a gilded cage was better than just any cage. He made friends with Lupo, an Italian mafia gangster, but the warden also noted that Ponzi was always scheming and designing financial intrigues. Little did he know. So all the signs were there.

The irony is that had Ponzi not been such a kind-hearted soul the scheme that bears his name might never have happened. Following his release from prison, he was determined to make some money legitimately. He held down several minor jobs but had a great idea for supplying power to small coal mines (coal was booming in Alabama at the time.) One of his jobs was as a nurse in a clinic. Another female nurse had been badly burned in a fire and the doctor happened to mention to Ponzi one day how difficult it was for him to find skin donors without which she might die. Ponzi was incensed and on the spot offered to be a donor immediately. The first donation was 75 sq. inches, the second determined to be needed a little later was another 50 sq. inches. He was hospitalized in pain and complications for several months. The girl lived but by the time he was released, his idea for supplying power to the mines had been co opted by others and he was forced to seek other menial employment, once as a librarian at a small college where he was eventually fired for his honesty in revealing the dishonesty of a faculty member -- who happened to be a friend of the college president.

After marrying and moving back to Boston, following numerous attempts at get-rich-quick schemes, Ponzi hit upon one that perhaps only he, with his interest in currency manipulation, collecting stamps, and his interest in the Post Office, could have worked out. Before WW I the International Postal Treaty permitted sending postal coupons for use on return mail envelopes. The idea was that $1 in postal coupons would buy the equivalent in, say, French stamps to send mail back from a foreign country. After WW I there were vast differences in currency values. 5 cents in the US would buy a five cent stamp, but in Italy it would buy the equivalent of 10 cents in stamps. Pozi's idea was to purchase huge quantities of international postal coupons in countries with devalued currency and exchange them in the US. In the the example above the immediate profit would be 100%. He soon realized that enormous quantities of these coupons would be needed ($50 would buy a stack of Italian coupons over 73 feet high) and that the Post Office would not redeem the coupons for cash, only stamps. In the meantime, money was rolling in to fund his scheme which purported, in writing, to guarantee 50% profits in 90 days. His legitimate idea soon foundered on logistical problems and it shifted to what we now call the classic Ponzi scheme where early investors are paid off with money from later investors.

The irony of it is -- and this is perhaps true of Madoff also -- that Ponzi really wanted nothing more than to be a legitimate businessman. It had hit upon a scheme that was technically legal and would work in very small amounts, but never at the scale it ballooned into.

A fascinating account of a time with striking similarities to today and a morality tale: "if we don't learn our history, we're doomed to repeat it".
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