Everyone loves the schadenfreude of a riches-to-rags story—except, that is, the people living it. In Brooklyn-based writer Angelica Baker’s ambitious debut, Our Little Racket, three women whose fates are tied to the fortunes of Wall Street legend Bob D’Amico find their lives turned upside down by the financial crash of September 15, 2008.
What Bob—who’s been nicknamed “Silverback” in the press due to his alpha-male dominance—did to cause the downfall of his investment firm, Weiss & Partners, isn’t immediately clear to anyone. Not his 15-year-old daughter, Madison; his beautiful, patrician wife, Isabel; or their longtime nanny, Lily. But whether he is guilty, innocent or somewhere in between, these women know that his disgrace is theirs, and their stratified community in Greenwich, Connecticut, isn’t going to let them forget it. All three are forced to think about their place in that community now: how they got there, what it means to them and what they might give up or whom they might be willing to betray to keep it.
The story is narrated in turns by Lily, Isabel and Madison, as well as Madison’s former best friend, Amanda, and Isabel’s wannabe best friend, Mina. Each sees the community from a unique point of view, which rounds out the portrayal of the place and society in interesting ways, but much of the novel is spent describing their emotions as they wait for Bob to declare his innocence or guilt, for the world to drop its verdict on him, or both. The almost complete interiority of the action and conflict makes for frustrated characters as well as occasionally claustrophobic readers, who are likely to long for a glimpse of the action outside the gilded cage of Greenwich. Still, Baker’s deft hand with metaphor and smooth writing style, along with a strong conclusion that cracks open one of the book’s most mysterious characters, makes Our Little Racket a journey worth taking.