The Widow of Wall Street: A Novel by Randy Susan Meyers (Atria Books, $26.00, 352 pages)
As with The Murderer’s Daughters, The Widow of Wall Street transports the reader into situations that few people experience. Author Randy Susan Meyers maintains her running theme of human frailty in this, her fourth novel.
A bitter opening chapter sends the tale to nearly the end of its long and treacherous timespan, from August 1960 to 2009. Author Meyers has taken the horrific scandal that was the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme and reworked it into an up close and personal morality piece that provides raw emotion and insight into the lives of her fictional characters. While the general premise of the telling closely mirrors the real life front page story, the details that are specific to Meyer’s characters are of her own invention.
Phoebe has a better than ordinary life living on a nicer street in Brooklyn. She’s pretty and doesn’t look like the rest of her Jewish family. At age fifteen Phoebe has become smitten with Jake Pierce who has just turned eighteen. Jake’s family is down the economic ladder from Phoebe’s. Jake is ambitious, agressive and determined to get ahead.
As the chapters unfold, the pace of the tale quickens. Phoebe and Jake’s life as a married couple in New York has its up and downs. Jake is clearly obsessed with making money and Phoebe feels she has been relegated to a boring housewife life. Jake is a risk-taker and he lacks the sort of empathy that would temper his personal drive. Consistent with the Bernard Madoff scenario, Jake borrows money from his wife’s family, which as we know puts them at jeopardy of being his victims.
Author Meyers does an excellent job of depicting her characters. Jake is hard edged and deluded, as a Ponzi scheme boss must be to maintain the illusions he creates. Phoebe, for the most part, lacks the fortitude and willingness to see past the glittering life she leads as the scheme grows and grows.
While the tale is not original, the writing is superb. Readers will wonder at the lives led by the super rich. It’s like being behind the scenes of the pages of People magazine.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
The Widow of Wall Street was released on April 11, 2017.