In this Pygmalion tale of a novelist turned bond trader, Martha McPhee brings to life the greed and riotous wealth of New York during the heady days of the second gilded age.
India Palmer, living the cash-strapped existence of the writer, is visiting wealthy friends in Maine when a yellow biplane swoops down from the clear blue sky to bring a stranger into her life who will change everything. The stranger is Win Johns, a swaggering and intellectually bored trader of mortgage-backed securities. Charmed by India's intelligence, humor, and inquisitive nature, and aware of her near-desperate financial situation, Win poses a proposition: "Give me eighteen months and I'll make you a world-class bond trader." Shedding her artist's life with surprising ease, India embarks on a raucous ride to the top of the income chain, leveraging herself with crumbling real estate, never once looking back…or does she?
With a light-handed irony that is by turns as measured as Claire Messud's and as biting as Tom Wolfe's, Martha McPhee tells the classic American story of people reinventing themselves, unaware of the price they must pay for their transformation.