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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 March 2010
The book follows the careers of two college graduates who end up as first year analysts in an investment bank in the City. And of course - over the course of the year they fall for each other - so far, so predictable.

The good bit of the book are that it does portray the pointlessness and pain of analyst type work relatively well. It also brings across the slow slide into the abyss that most people working in the environment start experiencing in their personal lives. The characters are mostly rather two dimensional and flat - and no wonder, with no time for sleep or any intellectual stimulation not involving work (and from experience, rearranging slides and spreadsheets this way or that tends not to stimulate the mind all that much over longer periods) that is slowly what one tends to become. Another positive aspect is that the book does a good job of portraying how people, who've never experienced it personally tend not to understand what is going on in the industry or how people work so much (or what they do) - I can completely identify with the discussions described in the book happening in the family arena or the circle of friends. This is in a way where I see the success of the book - it does not try to make the investment banking look exciting or glamorous but shows a much grimmer, more realistic view.

In spite of this, the book is far from a five star in my opinion. What lets it down is the relatively predictable workplace romance, which is a bit contrived - although in principle statistically quite likely in the environment described - the general lack of humour (even if of the darker kind) and the already mentioned two dimensional characters. Neither Abby, nor Mike (the two protagonists) are very well developed and both seem to be more than a bit cliched.

Some other reviewers compared it to Liar's Poker: Playing the Money Markets but this is really a very different type of book - not meant as an analysis of an industry but more of what happens to the people within. A more comparable, and in my opinion vastly more entertaining and accomplished read would be Po Bronson's Bombardiers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2007
This book is very easy to read and entertaining. Not only is it extremely humorous in parts but it also conveys a real sense of the damage done to the well being of two individuals' wellbeing when they work in an environment where everything comes second place to the false god of money that modern society holds up as being so important. Everyone has to work if they want to have a half decent life but this book shows what happens when the balance part of the "work/life balance" concept is forgotten.
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on 20 January 2014
I didn't mind this book. It's pretty much what you'd expect. I guess though it's suffered because now bankers are reviled and not 'worshipped' in the UK! So - they seem to spend a lot of time in the office doing very dull stuff, or not really having a clue what they do either! The politics is horrible. There are the usual idiotic employees, still -in the 21st century- landing well paid jobs because of Daddy. They drink too much and party hard. Their relationships outside of banking are usually going to end soon.
All quite depressing and no big surprise to me really.
However, it is a light read. Not compelling, but suited me for 30 minutes before sleeping :-D One thing that annoyed me was the misspelling of 'Boxster' - it has an S in it and the most minimal research would show this to be the case. That kind of small annoying lack of care meant I started to question the rest of the book. Which is silly, but is how my brain works.
I probably wouldn't buy any other books by this author, but it wasn't complete rubbish!
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on 24 April 2014
Needs reading now.
Courtney, herself once an investment banker, is a creative artist who reports from the inside. People in the business will recognise at once the sort of people and concerns and values she has experienced. An epiphany for a new set of values
Courtney's Orwellian vision may be a last chance to help us not to slide into the false hype world of turbo-capitalism and banking hype.
She also sees the world in which large often foreign companies impose on us a culture enforcing ageism , sexual discrimination (who wants old women on the board, we want youth, you might hear a bucolic aged Lear-like roue declare). The conveyancing of dishonesty as respectability and efficiency that many might associate with London-based banks, overseas real estate companies nested in London, and their helpers.
A world of double-speak where honesty and trust in reality mean the opposite, as the end of the novel proposes.
Courtney speaks for liberty from these forces that drag us down.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2007
A very good and amusing account of working in the city. This is the first book that I have found that dared to delve deeper into the lives of the `Tube Sheep' community (quote Dave Holliman from Horsfall's `You Are Here') or the Sharp Suits with no scruples (McLaren's `Black Cabs'). It is a different life and not one I fancy if I'm honest.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2006
Polly Courtney clearly knows the city. An honest - sometimes humourous, sometimes brutal - account of life as a "high flier", this book is a must-read for all those contemplating a life in city-banking or similar. Those working in the city will cringe, those unfamiliar to it will smile in disbelief. I advise you to read this insightful first release from a soon to be household name. More please!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2008
A very funny romp in the City with only a small bit of over the top zaniness. Are women really treated this badly? As a retired stock broker in the USA, I would say that I saw worse behaviour in the USA than what is written in this very funny book. A lot worse. Read Susan Antilla's book, "Tales from the Boom Boom Room" for a true depiction of Wall Street antics. Does a Philip Oversby really exist? As depicted in this book, Oversby is a boy scout compared with what really exists in the world of Wall Street.

Yes, a lot of the work first year City analysts do is extremely "secretarial" in nature. Mainly, this job as a first year analyst is a training ground for people who are intelligent in their own right, but are not necessarily educated in the traditional sense for a career in investment banking. In this book, Abigail Turner is Cambridge Uni educated in physics, but only trained in New York for investment banking for a couple of months. How could a person who in university only a few months earlier would not have understood an interest payment from a dividend payment be a true analyst after only a couple of months training in the summer? The answer is, they are under the "protective" (or psychologically abusive) wing of the people to whom they report. This is why in the section discussing the annual self assessment, the analyst's self assessment is considered meaningless. These first year analysts are considered to be incapable of using a Kleenex to wipe their own noses. Their bosses want them to do intellectually menial work so thay will pick up the vocabulary and gain an understanding of the business that they didn't learn at Uni. It is basically on the job training that they would have learned in Uni had they studied business and economics. This way, by hiring people with various educations, once they know how to read a financial report, they will be able to use their field of expertise to assess a company in a particular industry. For instance, with a background in chemistry or biology, a person would be able to ask the management meaningful questions about their research programs and would be better able to determine their capabilities of discovering a new pharmaceutical drug, or even a bio-tech drug (made from a live protein). An engineer would know what it takes to create a new machine. In this respect, Polly Courtney has hit the nail on the head. Spot on.
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on 2 October 2008
Polly Courtney blends in a story of a relationship at a workplace and working for an investment bank in flawless style, it is absorbing and compelling at times, and points out the inequility experienced by females at the workplace in a powerful manner that makes the reader sympathetic to their plight. Although it describes the lifestyle involved in investment banking, such as the 18 hour working days, the thankless recognition, the misery of being at the bottom of the pile, this book has a more all round edge to it than Cityboy for instance. An enjoyable and worthwhile read, i promise it will not disappoint.
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on 19 November 2008
If you're thinking about getting a job in the city (pretend we're not in a credit crunch and the glory days still prevail) ... read this book. A well written, well researched and brutally honest portrayal of the sacrifices that are required in order to bring in the big bucks. It highlights the point that money isn't worth anything if you've got nothing else in your life. But overall it takes the shine off an industry that has been shrouded in unwarranted glamour for a long time. I'm happy to earn a normal amount and to have time to enjoy the money I earn with friends and family.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2007
The book is a pretty good read but I was disappointed by the depth of the "war stories". I work in the City myself and I can't say that I recognise the analyst environment the author describes. She must have had a grim experience. If you're after a book around true stories and deal making, this book will disappoint. It really is more of a novel around a few analysts working and partying in the city.
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