Erin Duffy’s debut novel Bond Girl is a combination of Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Preppy Handbook and The Devil Wears Prada. While the book might technically be categorized as Chick Lit, there’s enough testosterone in it to satisfy anyone who‘s grown up with older brothers or anywhere near Wall Street and the Hamptons.
The story centers around Alex Garrett, a recent University of Virginia graduate during her first year and a half on Wall Street – a job which she has coveted since she was eight years old. Aside from being one of a handful of women working in a notoriously male dominated industry, Alex’s timing couldn’t be worse as she begins her job a year before the financial markets began to self destruct, taking along the rest of the economy with them. There is a reason why there aren’t many women working as traders on Wall Street – as James Brown said ‘it’s a man’s world,’ and with the exception of the military, nowhere is that more evident than in the financial district of Manhattan.
You’re one of two women in my group, and if that dynamic is a problem for you, then take the train to Midtown and see if the broads at Conde Nast have a job for you, because I won’t. Under no circumstances are you allowed to execute trades of any kind, and you are prohibited from talking to clients unless someone introduces you directly.”
Life at Cromwell Pierce isn’t anything like what she had imagined it would be. Rather than executing trades and earning large paychecks, Alex finds herself sitting on a metal folding chair, delivering the day’s lunch for thirty or forty traders, and dodging the advances of a sleazy client with enough power to ruin her career if she doesn’t give him what he wants. In the midst of this, she finds herself in a quasi-romantic relationship with a co-worker – something that is verboten on her floor.
Alex Garrett is a smart, good-natured character who is easy to spend time with on the page. She is surrounded by realistic characters that range from fraternal protectors to outright predators. Duffy spent ten years working on Wall Street, and has done an accurate job presenting the atmosphere of daily life in a large brokerage house, from the calculator Alex must learn to use, to the gum stuck to the soles of her boss’s Gucci loafers. She moves the plot along at a comfortable pace providing the reader with a balance of Alex’s professional and personal life to make it a nice read to come home to. Duffy’s writing style, like her characters, is casual and easy to follow
If you’ve ever wondered what working on Wall Street is really like, Bond Girl will give you a realistic tutorial. From the standard uniform of khakis and button down shirts to the endless weeks of wining and dining clients, Duffy nails it. There is no Charlie Sheen or Michael Douglass wearing expensive suits and custom shirts. Breakfast and lunch are brought in for the staff every day and devoured like a gazelle on the Serengeti.
Bond Girl is a great read for anyone interested in the dirt found underneath the carpet in a brokerage house.