The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers
Published April 11th 2017
I wasn’t sure how Wall Street/Ponzi scheme aspect of the book was going to work for me. However, I have read a couple of other books from Randy Susan Meyers and really liked them.
So I figured I would go for it and I’m really happy I did.
“Phoebe never hated her husband more than when she visited him in prison”
Told from Phoebe’s point of view. The trip to prison is eleven hours by cab, bus, and train. Visits are hard. So many things are off-limits and can’t be talked about. Things like the kids, lack of money, his fall from grace. This makes conversation difficult. But Phoebe makes the trip. She even dresses to please him. He feels she should represent him well – EVEN THOUGH HE’S IN PRISON. (I do believe I yelled that part out loud).
Jake had the audacity to ask (well whine really)….
“Why won’t you stay longer? Other wives come Saturday and Sunday, not for a measly few hours”
She spent her life pleasing Jake, and look at how he returned the favor? He betrayed everyone…including her. In some ways he’s safer in prison. It’s Phoebe who has to walk down the street with people glaring at her or worse. She is the one the reporters hound and follow….NOT Jake. Phoebe is the one getting threatening emails and phone calls….NOT Jake. But she doesn’t know how to break the habit. How to abandon him. He only has her to lean on, she’s his security but he’s her prison…
“Jake was as much brother, father, and sometimes even child, as he was her husband”.
The book is broken into six parts that take place over the span of about fifty years. We hear mostly from Phoebe but there are parts from Jake’s perspective as well.
The early years begin in 1960. Fifteen-year-old Phoebe is young and restless. When she starts dating eighteen-year-old Jake, her mother thinks she’s getting too serious too quickly. But there’s no slowing down Jake and Phoebe. Jake has big plans. Plans to conquer the world. Phoebe believes him capable of anything.
Red flags, a few years later. Their relationship still going strong but Jake wants Phoebe all to himself. She’s in University but Jake wants her to skip classes, go to parties with him…prove her loyalty. The two sides of Jake. The charmer, protecting her but needing her at the same time. But the other side, a man who didn’t take it well when he didn’t get his way. Half the time she wants to break up with him. His ambition starts to bother her. He needs constant admiration and attention. It’s exhausting. She likes College and learning and wants more.
It’s a pivotal time in Phoebe’s life. New experiences, new people…and plates of delicious Blintzes. Then something happens that changes the course of all their lives. Now Phoebe needs rescuing and Jake is there. She tells herself she’ll never doubt him again.
Jake grows his dynasty. Children come and Phoebe remains her husband’s biggest supporter. Phoebe is close with her kids. Katie is very open with Phoebe but keeps things from Jake. Noah turns himself inside out trying to impress his father. The best athlete, the best student, but suffers from anxiety for which Jake prescribes RUNNING because no one in HIS family will ever see a therapist.
I wanted Phoebe to stand up to Jake, especially when it came to her children. I wanted her to open her eyes, to wake up…
As Jake’s success grows, Phoebe seems to grow smaller. A good mother, but always Jake’s wife. She is his biggest asset. She works the parties for him. Talking to everyone, getting them interested. All the while having no idea what things are going on behind her back.
She has suspicions but doesn’t delve too deep…
One place that Phoebe is completely happy is at the not for profit, Mira House, where she has volunteered off and on over the years. It is her refuge – a place of her own. She loves the women there and they have plans. The “Cupcake Project” to help women from all walks of life.
But will Jake get his hands in that too?
Reading Jake’s point of view made me see red at times. Did I ever want to throttle him! When he would say something egotistical or demeaning to his wife or when he would say something that he thought his son needed to hear in order to “toughen him up”. Jake talks about how much he loves Phoebe but so much talk is around her looks. How proud he was that his wife turned heads. But he would belittle Phoebe by making a comment about what she should eat. Or his thoughts about her size when she was pregnant? He hated seeing her body stretched out. His mother “let herself go” and he’d be damned if he’d ever “let a fat wife bring him down”. (My daughter has stopped checking when she hears me yelling at my books).
But there were also times that I felt his love for Phoebe and his kids. He wanted to make them proud of him.
I can’t imagine how exhausting it would be to make sure everything is perfect ALL the time. Nothing out-of-place. Even having someone tell you what perfume to wear. All the hard work to stay in shape…. trying to fight the normal aging process.
But there are some good times too.
What happens when it all comes crashing down? Will Phoebe get it together and do what’s best for her? But what is best for her?
I really enjoyed this book and I had a very hard time putting it down. It’s about money, greed, love, lies, secrets, and betrayal and more! I had worried that the book would have a lot of financial talk. The author’s descriptions helped me understand enough to keep up but didn’t go overboard. I was completely entertained and invested in this family and their lives.
Thank you to NetGalley, Randy Susan Meyers, and Atria Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
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