The year is 2006 and Holly Talbott is married to the founder of Comer Capital at the apex of excess on Wall street. Sure, Holly loves being a stay-at-home mom and keeping house accounts at all the best places, but there are some downsides to being Mrs. Hedgefund. Even botox can't beautify her motherin-law's withering stares, and her husband, Tim, is away so often it feels like she's single again. So when it turns out that not all of Tim's trips have been for business, the newly minted divorcée ventures beyond the Upper East Side and finds that sometimes exes have all the fun.
Impeccably rendered with wit and style, The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund is an old-fashioned love story and a celebration of New York-in any economy.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
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REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA Kargman, Jill, 1974-
The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund / by Jill Kargman. p. cm.
eISBN : 978-1-101-02243-6
1. Rich people—Fiction. 2. Adultery—Fiction. 3. Divorced women—Fiction.
4. Dating (Social customs)—Fiction. 5. New York (N.Y.)—Fiction. I. Title. PS3611.A783E’.6—dc22 2008042999
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Dedicated with xoxos to
My loving family and
To the Chères—my Kikis—the best friends in the world.
First of all, I want to worship the amazing Trena Keating, who is a brilliant yummy mummy of three-slash-editor in chief—I bow down to you and Lily Kosner for all your incredible insights and wisdom. To the incredible ICM posse: Jennifer Joel and Amanda Urban, plus Josie Freedman and Elliot Webb on the “leff coass.” Special thanks to Steven Beer and Mary Miles of Greenberg Traurig. Megakudos to Lee-Sean Huang for help making the graphs, and a special shout-out of major thanks to my anonymous Hedge Fund Deep Throats for the Wall Street crash courses and juicy tidbits, plus amazing supporters like Amelia’s mom, Laura Tanny, Jacky Davy, Lisa Jacobs, Aviva Drescher, Tiffany Dubin, Carrie Karasyov, Janisse Tio, Tara Lipton, Alexis and Philip Mintz, the Heinzes, the Bevilacquas, Dan Allen, Jenn Linardos, Michael Kovner and Jean Doyen de Montaillou, Suzanne Cleary, Allison Aston, Beth Klein, and especially Carol Bell and Barbara Martin.
And to my Kikis: All of you inspired me to write this ode not just to finding amore, but also to true friendship, and I love you so much: Vanessa Eastman, Jeannie Stern, Dana Jones, Trip Cull-man, Lauren Duff, and most of all, Lisa Turvey for all your genius early edits, notes, and advice.
Last but not least, my family: Willie, Mom, Dad, and all the Kopelmans and Kargmans, especially my LC—thank you for being the best, most supportive husband—and to Sadie, Ivy, and Fletch, I love you, my little nuggets.
The Mrs. Hedgefund Rolodex of Favorite Words, A to Z
a. is for Armani, Aston Martin, Aman Resort, AmEx (Black)
b. is for Bonpoint, Bergdorfs, BOTOX, Bulgari
c. is for Cartier, Chauffeur, Chanel, Citibabes, Concierge
d. is for Dolce, Driver, Doorman, Dior
e. is for Emaciated, Endowment, Envy
f. is for Fendi, Frette, Furs, Frederic Fekkai
g. is for Gucci, Golf, Goyard
h. is for Housekeeper, Helicopter, Hamptons
i. is for iPhone, The Ivy, Italy
j. is for Jacadi, Jewelry, Jimmy Choo
k. is for Kelly Bag (in every color)
l. is for Lanvin, Louboutins, La Perla, Lobel’s, Long/Liquid Lunches
m. is for Missoni, Mercedes, Manicures
n. is for Nina Ricci, NetJets, Nannies
o. is for Oscar de la Renta, Opera Tickets
p. is for Pilates, Porthault, Paris, Pricey Parties
q. is for Quantity, Quality
r. is for Rive Gauche, Rachel Roy
s. is for Swifty’s, Saks, Season Tickets, Skybox, Second Home
t. is for Tiffany, Teterboro, Third Home
u. is for Ungaro
v. is for Vogue, Valentino, Van Cleef, Vivier, VIP List
w. is for Whatever, Whenever, Whomever I Want
x. is for Xanax
y. is for Yellow Diamond, YSL, Yacht
z. is for the Zone, Zegna, Zenith
New York, 2006
“Have you heard of the new Divorced Barbie? She comes with all of Ken’s stuff!”
It is 1789. An ethereal mist rolls through the gray-smudged streets as coiffed heads are rolling into baskets at the Bastille. The muddied, bedraggled, and oft-diseased onlookers cheer in every Parisian alley. Dawning is the day when preened, brioche-nibbling, wig-powdering royal schmucks no longer shall prance the palace courts in ornamented couture; the chasm between the upper crust and the crumb-eaters is closing with each crisp slice of a once-bejeweled neck, to the thrill of the roaring crowd.
As a raging Broadway geek, I had seen Les Misérables probably twenty times, but the music was even sweeter when a limited engagement briefly reopened on Broadway recently. It was packed with tourists and fanatical theater-worshippers like me, and I relished the airtight lyrics and live voices versus my well-worn CD. Seeing it again was like enjoying a short season of a favorite fruit you know you can’t savor next month—blood oranges for your ears.
Even in the decade since it last appeared on the Great White Way, a lot has changed in our gritty city. In New York, a glistening new empire was raging, full of the same boundless excesses and sheltered luxuries in which cosseted royals reveled. I thought how lucky I was. Not only because we are now rid of gangrenous wounds, lepers, and inefficient sewer systems, but also because even if there were a class pyramid like the one they had in old Europe, I knew I would be at the triangle’s apex, safe from the storm of clamoring mobs raising tattered flags and angry voices. No, I’m not a blue-blooded queen; I’m a normal, down-to-earth, non-over-the-top gal. But I must confess: I am a hedge fund wife.
Don’t let go of that guillotine rope!
I’m not like the rest of them. I promise. I am not some skeletorious trend-splashed fashion victim or five-foot-eight Xanax tablet with a face. I look my thirty-four years and have not succumbed to the BOTOX needle or boob lift, despite the 9.81-meters-per-second force of gravity taking its toll. Okay, some of my friends are a little OTT, but some are very down-to-earth, and their favorite thing about having money is giving it away. While I must admit, a gal can obviously love the perks of not stressing about dough, there are some drawbacks to the world that I inhabit. Namely the incessant quest for perfection at all costs. In every way—perfect kids, homes, bodies, lives. Many of my friends are slaves to their appearance: nips, tucks, $600 creams made of sheep’s placenta, trainers, lipo, the works. Anything to be fabulous. But I myself am more drab than fab. More J.Crew than J. Mendel. Sometimes I’ll stare at a fashion spread and wish I knew how to work a look like that, but even though I could maybe afford the crazy price tag, I could never in good conscience do it; I’m just not wired that way. I grew up in a well-off but supergrounded, relaxed family in Boston, where people didn’t flash cash—my dad is a sweet-natured retired pediatrician and my loving late mother was the epitome of warm elegance rather than opulence, class instead of crass. Sure, a few classmates of mine were megamillionaires (back when that was a big deal), but they made their chauffeurs drop them blocks before school out of an embarrassment of riches. Now in New York I regularly see Rolls-Royces with kiddie car seats glutting the street in front of my son Miles’s school. In Boston, the entrepreneurs really created products and didn’t show their money around Versailles style. The father of a girl I knew invented the nail clipper; another developed the lawn mower as we know it—patents that still yield serious buckaroos, but none of the families were advertising it. Even though many of my parents’ friends had money, there wasn’t the flamboyant arrogance I see now.
You see, Manhattan is a different beast. Fortunes are made on people moving around money, not widgets. Very few companies create a palpable product, something you can hold in your hands. It’s all about trading, investing, forecasting ups and downs in those markets. Nothing annoys my husband, Tim, more than when he asks what so-and-so does and I blithely respond, “Oh, you know, Wall Street.” He tries to calmly explain that there are titans of private equity and mere cold-callers, a spectrum of skill and wealth. But numbers now blur into hieroglyphics for me, despite my A+ in BC Calc in high school. It’s as simple as this: I have zero interest.
More than once Tim has given me a mini-crash course—basically verbal Sominex—on the differences between traders who trade stocks versus commodities (like pork bellies and the all-famous Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice in Trading Places), versus venture capitalists who invest in small companies with high-growth potential. And then there are the current reigning titans, the kings of ka-ching: the hedgies. What my husband and his brother, Hal, do is all very mysterious and, well, to me, boring. Hedge funds, which are not really regulated, are based on an exorbitant “two and twenty” (or “three and thirty,” depending on how well they do) percentage of fees and profits, resulting in lots of boys with lots of cash. All anyone knows is that these guys are minting it, and that the culture, even if clueless about what they actually do, is obsessed.
Fashion designers are telling E! Television that their inspiration is “hedge fund chic.” Artists at the Miami ArtBasel Fair rub shoulders not with other artists or their dealers but with their new buttoned-up clientele, who fork out millions for a formaldehyde-suspended pig or a splatter-painted panel. When people ask what Tim does and I respond, “Hedge fund,” they say, “Oooooooh,” and I cringe, embarrassed; these funds are on people’s lips and brains and are synonymous with piles of gold bricks. Not to mention people with no brains: There is even a new book, Hedge Funds for Dummies. Like their Gekko-y eighties counterparts, these guys love the money. Greed is good, so it was said, but these days, bragging is better. It seems that every guy my husband works with needs the latest phone, newest car, biggest house, to show off; there’s no modesty—it’s in-your-face, loud and clear, volume to eleven. And that’s how they like it. As do the women who chase them. But while most women would secretly wear Nikes under their Vera Wang bridal dresses so they could sprint faster down the aisle to marry one, take it from me: There are sacrifices.
First of all, the MIA husband syndrome. Tim has to travel all the time, so I’m often solo after Miles’s tuck-in with my remote control, learning way too much about Hugh Hefner’s three girlfriends on E! or wincing at a taped tummy tuck on the Learning Channel (dashing any desire to have one, despite slight paunch). Then, when Tim is in residence, we have to go to a million “functions.” Hedge fund events, charity balls, Tim’s co-worker’s sister’s wedding. The more money you have, the more friends you get, Tim jokes, but he loooves being the life of the party. Me? I’m way more boring. While he likes going out and sampling aged scotch or expensive wine, I prefer . . . Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice.
All of this is a terrific boon for my field of interest: charity work. There is so much money out there, and the dough coupled with the mounting social ambition yields a prime moment for raising money, so I’ve thrown myself into my volunteer work for the hospital, getting people to come to our benefit and raising tons of funds. In fact, I’ve raised so many Benjamins that Susan in the development office whispered I was being groomed for the board. But of course, there’s a charity version of mutual back-scratching. It means that everyone who donates or buys a ticket to my event then asks me to buy one for their cause as well, resulting in a full calendar of going out.
These events can be fun, sure, but lately the whole black-tie thing has gotten worse, spiraling out of control to the point where we can conceivably be out five nights a week. Sometimes I worry about how easily lying comes to me in terms of wriggling out of attending. It’s truly almost like breathing. Hi, it’s Holland. I’m sooo sorry, but Tim and I can’t make your Night of Wagner at the Opera because we have friends in town! Or: Gosh, I’ll have to miss your museum luncheon—I have a doctor’s appointment, bummer! Come to think of it, it’s really just minifibs to spare people’s feelings, because I generally much prefer small, intimate gatherings to stuffy formal fetes with penguin suits and pearl chokers.
And take luncheons, for example. I have a strict no-luncheons policy, which can be tricky in Manhattan, and thus involves at least weekly lies to various hedge fund wives who invite me to their interminable afternoons at La Goulue or Sette Mezzo. Let’s face it: The word “luncheon” is “lunch” plus “eon” because it takes eons for the darn thing to end. My last was a Museum of Natural History luncheon that went on so long, it was as if the gigantic T. rex dinosaur jawbones bit a humongous bloody chunk out of my day. Whether I was giving tours at Miles’s school, working at the hospital writing fund-raising letters, or simply running the house, my time was in scattered pieces like the fossils. So I feel zero guilt as I rattle off faux excuses to various invitations that would no doubt be the equivalent of social root canal.
But lying to Tim was different.
My husband of seven years knew me so well, I had to avert my eyes when I spewed out some invented plan, tending to a supposedly errant cuticle or lip gloss touch-up rather than look him in the eye. It had come to this since our last major fight a month ago.
“I don’t think you quite understand, Holly,” he yelled at me, brown eyes ablaze. “You are NEVER to speak to Kiki again. Ever. She is out of this family. She left my brother and she’s a tacky little bitch. The Talbott family sticks together, and if Hal has booted that slut from his life, we do the same. Delete her from your Outlook. That garbage Kiki Talbott is Out. Of. Our. Lives.”
He slammed the door to his bathroom. I heard the shower go on and closed my eyes, knowing that despite his fervent militaristic command, my best friend—my now ex-sister-in-law—was most certainly not going to be dumped in the trash.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this - even though it's been described as a "beach read," I found it authentic, funny and genuinely moving. It's the story of a New Yorker, Holly Talbott, who finds her husband kissing another woman in Brooklyn, and ends her marriage. The novel recounts her adventures in the dating pool, and the book is liberally laced with '80s pop culture. Holly seemed real, like someone I could relate to. Kargman's portrayal of the hedge-fund world was a little over the top, but thankfully it did not interfere with character development. I also loved the happy ending. This was kind of like a John Hughes movie turned into a book.
Can't wait to read another of Jill Kargman's books!
The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund by Jill Kaangman Story about a woman whose husband grows up in a company and he learns to trade funds and be very good at it, so good he's able to hide them in his portfolio. She has a baby, Miles, and her best girlfriend are out one day when they see her husband making out with another female on the streets. He's not due home for another 2 days so they ransack his office to find his hidden funds so they can take them and deposit them elsewhere. They used to attend charity events where they'd bid on 250,000 items and it was nothing to them.
In 2006 thirty-four years old Holly Talbott believes she has a happy marriage to Tim, a Wall St. hedge fund dealer and a wonderful son Miles. Although his family objects, Holly periodically meets with her best friend Kiki, a Jew from Brooklyn, who divorced Tim's brother. However, on one of their clandestine get-togethers, Holly and Kiki observe Tim hugging tightly another woman. Instead of Tim being ostracized for cheating by his family and the community during the divorce, Holly is the one treated with contempt; as she comes from the wrong side of the tracks. The pre-nuptial agreement affirmed that perspective. Whether it is taking Miles to school or booted from a charity fundraiser, the Wall St. Hedge Fund wives and mothers treat Holly as a leper. Only Kiki still remains her friend. While Kiki dates a seemingly normal nice guy, Holly finds a series of losers. This is an amusing witty contemporary tale that misses the bite of a satirical look at the financial meltdown as the timing seems off, but will entertain readers with the two BFFs seeking a nicer class of men. With a jocular story line, readers will enjoy this lighthearted romp of the rich and the kicked out of the wealthy club, but also believe The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund misses an opportunity to lampoon the affluent financial crowd for their egotistical excesses. Harriet Klausner
I thought the book was quite a bore to be honest, and couldn't wait to get done reading. The chapters jumped, and i got lost a lot in the book. I guess I wasn't paying much attention . However I loved the ending... Karma is a B****.
This book was OK, but not great. It did hold my attention better than Hedge Fund Wives, which never went anywhere. I enjoyed the friendship of the best friends. Kiki's character could have her own book. For a bargain price book, this will fill a rainy day.
I read her first book and loved it!!!!! This book is really really good. A must read!! She is a great writer.
The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund is partly an expose of the personal excesses practiced by the high end New York City financial set prior to the current economic crisis, partly the story a newly single mom finding her new self, all told in a beach-read type novel by Jill Kargman. The book had me alternately laughing out loud, chuckling under my breath and nodding in recognition. Though not exactly Jane Austen in a literary sense, it is similarly a keenly observed social comedy of its time and place, with main character/narrator whose head you can get inside as she navigates between the comfortable life she thought was happy and a new scary one that might really be happy, all the while trying to keep her son well-grounded. You don't need to be a New Yorker or know the financial world to enjoy this book, as Kargman explains a lot in both Holly's narrative and in the fun charts scattered throughout the book. Jill Kargman is great at skewering the rarified world of the Upper East Side of NYC that she knows best, but with humor and obvious fondness.
I have to say that I picked up this book on my way home from work Friday night and could not put it down! I finished it Sunday morning and had to tell everyone about it! Jill does such a great job of creating a realistic story that allows you to escape and trandsend yourself into the book. I laughed, I cried and I laughed again. This book is for everyone and anyone, I highly reccomend it and cannot wait for the next book. My only dissapointment is I will have to wait a year - ugh (I watched an interview with Jill and she said she only writes one book a year)!
The ex mrs.hedgefund is a must read!