Belle has a high-flying job on Wall Street but it’s still very much a boy’s club. The women working at her investment bank are hoping she’ll lead the charge to change the misogynistic environment. Meanwhile her seemingly unemployed husband, Bruce, hasn’t really taken over looking after the house or kids. And a new big-time client means that Belle will be dealing regularly with her former fiancé Henry. This story is set around 2008 as the financial markets were heading towards meltdown. I remember as a kid being bamboozled by the complicated chaos on a stockmarket trading floor and my knowledge of how it all works hasn’t really improved since. Sherry, who held a similar Wall Street position as her character, does her best to educate readers about the technical aspects and I actually enjoyed reading about the subprime mortgage lending practices more than Belle’s personal life dramas. It’s also hard to feel any sort of sympathy for a character who is struggling to get her life together while earning shitloads of money.
Opening Belle, the debut adult novel by Maureen Sherry, offers an insider's view into the adrenaline-fuelled chaos of a Wall Street trading desk. The synopsis says: "In 2008, Isabelle - a self-made, thirty-something Wall Street star - appears to have it all: an Upper West Side apartment, three healthy children, a handsome husband, and a high-powered job. But her reality is something else. Her trading desk work environment resembles a 1980s frat party, her husband feels employment is beneath him, and the bulk of childcare and homecare still falls in Belle's already full lap. Enter Henry, the former college fiance she never quite got over; now a hedge fund mogul. He becomes her largest client, and Belle gets to see the life she might have had with him. While Henry campaigns to win Belle back, the sexually harassed women in her office take action to improve their working conditions, and recruit a wary Belle into a secret 'glass ceiling club' whose goal is to mellow the cowboy banking culture and get equal pay for their work. All along, Belle can sense the financial markets heading toward their soon-to-be historic crash and that something has to give - and when it does, everything is going to change: her marriage, her career, her world, and her need to keep her colleagues' hands to themselves." Sherry was managing director at Bear Stearns before writing a mystery for middle-school readers. Opening Belle is out in February 2016.