The Widow of Wall Street

A Novel

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About The Book

The seemingly blind love of a wife for her husband as he conquers Wall Street, and her extraordinary, perhaps foolish, loyalty during his precipitous fall, is expertly explored in this “ripped-from-the-headlines story about love, ambition, and forgiveness” (PopSugar)—perfect for fans of the TV show Billions.

Phoebe recognizes fire in Jake Pierce’s belly from the moment they meet as teenagers. After they marry and he creates a financial dynasty, she trusts him without hesitation—unaware his hunger for success hides a dark talent for deception.

But when Phoebe learns her husband’s triumph and vast reach rests on an elaborate Ponzi scheme, her world unravels. While Jake is trapped in the web of his deceit, Phoebe is caught facing an unbearable choice. Her children refuse to see her if she remains at their father’s side, but abandoning him feels cruel and impossible.

From penthouse to prison, with tragic consequences rippling well beyond Wall Street, Randy Susan Meyers’s latest novel exposes a woman struggling to survive and then redefine her life as her world crumbles. “An engrossing emotional journey” (Kirkus Reviews) and USA TODAY bestselling author Diane Chamberlain raves, “With all the suspense of a thriller, The Widow of Wall Street quickly pulled me into the story and didn’t let me go until the last page.”

Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for The Widow of Wall Street includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

When Phoebe met Jake Pierce as a teenager, she knew he was a go-getter; he always said they’d be partners. As he creates a thriving financial dynasty, Phoebe trusts him without hesitation—unaware he is paving a path of deception.

When she learns her husband’s triumph and vast reach rests on an elaborate Ponzi scheme, her world unravels. Jake’s crime is uncovered, opening up speculations, which the world obsesses over. Did Phoebe know her life was fabricated by fraud? Was she an accomplice in this scheme?

Addressing issues of trust and love, The Widow of Wall Street depicts Phoebe’s struggle as she sets out to redefine her life after her perfect world crumbles.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. How did the first chapter establish Phoebe as a character?

2. Phoebe remarks to Jake as they discuss their parents’ marriages: “You make marriage sound horrid. Like a game.” He responds with, “The game of love, baby. Everything in life is some sort of contest, and everyone wants to be a winner . . . You and I, we’ll always win” (p. 15). What did Jake mean by this statement? Was his belief apparent in his actions throughout the book?

3. Describe Phoebe’s relationship with Jake in college.

4. Phoebe and her college professor Rob Gardiner embark on a whirlwind relationship while she is still dating Jake. What impact does the professor have on Phoebe’s character and some of her actions?

5. Why did the author decide to write Phoebe and Jake’s story chronologically? Could the author have chosen a different method?

6. What might have been a reason for Phoebe to attempt to pass off her child as Jake's? What did you think about her actions?

7. As the doctor is examining Phoebe at the hospital, she realizes that her “humiliation had no endpoint” (p. 46). How did the author portray Phoebe’s humiliation in this scene?

8. Discuss the structure of the novel. What is the purpose of having chapters that alternate between Phoebe’s viewpoint and Jake’s viewpoint?

9. How does Jake view the Club?

10. At one of their functions, Phoebe, at Jake’s request, talks up his work to some of the potential clients’ wives (p. 106). How would describe her actions? If you were in her place, would you do the same thing for your husband?

11. When Jake stops by the Cupcake Project, he says to Phoebe’s co-workers: “I planned on taking my wife for a glass of wine before we went to the synagogue dinner. Who knew I’d be interrupting the Sara Lee sweatshop?” (p. 131) What do you sense in Jake’s tone? What does it say about his character?

12. Phoebe recalls quotes from a copy of The Feminine Mystique: “It is easier to live through someone else than to become complete yourself,” and “The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own” (p. 134). How do you see these quotes apply to Phoebe’s present life?

13. How do you think Phoebe was able to keep grounded while Jake lost himself to the greed?

14. On page 168, Phoebe tells Ira at lunch, “Everyone acts differently when they’re with their husband or wife.” She doesn’t seem to believe in her own words—do you?

15. When Jake admits his crimes to his family, did you expect the reactions that occur? What did you think about Kate’s reaction specifically? Whose side are you on?

16. People accuse Phoebe of being involved in her husband’s schemes. What led to Phoebe’s ignorance? Should she have known?

17. “Love and lying coexisted, she supposed” (p. 276). Do you agree with Phoebe’s supposition? Why or why not?

18. What pushes Phoebe past the point of forgiving her husband? Are you surprised by the catalyst(s)? Should she have left her husband sooner?

19. Did the ending satisfy and bring closure? Were you imagining something completely different? What do you think happens after the close of the book?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Three years into their marriage, Phoebe and Jake’s relationship has shifted somewhat. How did their lives change? Is this change inevitable in all marriages?

2. “Katie and Noah didn’t want to relate to her in that constant way of little kids anymore—but they wanted her there and available at all times. Like a lamp. Perhaps you didn’t need to turn it on every minute, but you sure as hell wanted to know that the moment it got dark, you could. Maybe Phoebe was fooling herself, but teaching children how to fend for themselves every now and then seemed part of the parenting job” (p. 116). Do you agree with how Phoebe views being a parent? Is this a philosophy you have taken when raising children?

3. While Kate and Noah, like their mother, begin to show interest in humanitarian efforts, Jake is displeased: “He didn’t slave so that his kids and wife could grime away down there while he came home to an empty house. He’d be damned if the three of them went off to save the world with cupcakes and basketballs, while he looked like Scrooge counting money in the back room” (p. 154). Later, Phoebe and Jake also argue about Noah’s future, differing on their idea of a good life for him. Do you think this is a common argument between parents? What do you think of Jake’s thoughts? What values are important to you versus the ones important to society? Discuss with your book club.

4. In the letter to Kate, Phoebe writes, “Don’t wear your father’s sins” (p. 257). If you were Kate, how would you react to this statement? Discuss burdens that children might carry from their parents.

5. Why did the author chose the title The Widow of Wall Street? What is significant about it?
About The Author
Photograph by Sharona Jacobs

Randy Susan Meyers is the bestselling author of Waisted, Accidents of Marriage, The Comfort of Lies, The Murderer’s Daughters, and The Widow of Wall Street. Her books have twice been finalists for the Mass Book Award and named “Must Read Books” by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. She lives with her husband in Boston, where she teaches writing at the Grub Street Writers’ Center.

Product Details
  • Publisher: Atria Books (April 2017)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501131370

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Raves and Reviews

Praise for The Widow of Wall Street

“As this compelling story unfolds, you realize nothing is as uncomplicated as it seems, especially when you've been married almost 50 years and you take so seriously your marital vows because you felt both gratitude and debt when you uttered those words.” 

– The Associated Press

“[A]n engaging and sharp reflection of the rapid changes in marital dynamics over the course of the 20th century, as well as a cautionary tale about the dangers and allure of ambition in the heyday of Wall Street.”

– Publishers Weekly

“Full of deceit, scandal, and guilt, her novel expertly explores how rising to the top only to hit rock bottom affects a family. The consequence will leave readers reeling.” 

– Library Journal

"A ripped-from-the-headlines story about love, ambition, and forgiveness."

– PopSugar (Top Books of 2017)

“A provocative tale of loyalty and morality, this novel will introduce you to the scandalous side of New York.”

– Buzzfeed

“When Phoebe and Jake Pierce meet as teenagers, she knows he’s someone on the way up, and she wants to be there as he climbs the Wall Street ladder. He gets everything he ever wanted. When it turns out that Jake’s success rests on a huge Ponzi scheme, Phoebe has to make an excruciating choice.”
 

– New York Post ‘Must Read Books’

Randy Susan Meyers borrowed a real-life story for the building blocks of her fourth novel, “The Widow of Wall Street,” which chronicles a couple’s marriage as they amass great wealth and then lose it all when the husband is revealed to have committed financial fraud. Heartbreaking.”

– The Boston Globe

“Compelling. This is a great read . . . An engrossing emotional journey.”
 

– Kirkus Reviews

“Phoebe falls for Jake Pierce hard when they’re still just teenagers: She seems to know even before he does that he’ll go on to conquer a financial empire and rule the Wall Street scene. But the dirty secret behind Jake’s success will eventually become the downfall of this couples’ glittering life together think of The Widow of Wall Street as The Wolf of Wall Street — except told from the side of the wife, more scintillating, and a testament to the power of a woman’s ability to survive it all — it’s a must-read that will dazzle and repel you, in equal measure."

– Refinery 29

“I dare you not to read Randy Susan Meyers’ The Widow of Wall Street in one big gulp. A fascinating page turner that somehow manages both to indict and absolve.”  

– Melanie Benjamin, New York Times Bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

“Randy Susan Meyers made me feel, on a visceral level, the giddiness of Phoebe and Jake’s rise to power and the mounting panic as their lives and marriage began to crumble. Brilliantly executed and beautifully written.” 

– Diane Chamberlain, USA Today bestselling author of Pretending to Dance

"A riveting and engrossing read that I finished in one greedy gulp.”

– Alyson Richman, bestselling author of The Lost Wife

Praise for Accidents of Marriage

"This novel's unsparing look at emotional abuse and its devastating consequences gives it gravity and bite, while a glimpse into a physically damaged mind both surprises and fascinates."

– People

“Meyers puts a Boston family overwhelmed by a tragic accident under the literary microscope.”

– Kirkus (starred review)

"Unputdownable and unforgettable . . . It’s one of the most memorable stories about a marriage I’ve ever read."

– Liane Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author of The Husband's Secret

“A complex, captivating tale.”

– Boston Globe

Praise for The Comfort of Lies 

"This meaningful novel is, at its heart, a multi-faceted love story. It's about how people do the wrong things for the right reasons and vice versa. This is the story of the ways that families-- bonded by blood and by choice-- can save or slay us. With a vision that is generous, yet unsentimental, The Comfort Of Lies is a testimony to the healing power of the truth."

– Tayari Jones, author of 'Oprah Book Club Pick' An American Marriage

"Meyers’ women resonate as strong, complicated and conflicted, and the writing flows effortlessly in this sweet yet sassy novel about love, women and motherhood."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Meyers has crafted an absorbing and layered drama that explores the complexities of infidelity, forgiveness, and family.”

– Booklist

“Sharp and biting, and sometimes wickedly funny when the author skewers Boston’s class and neighborhood dividing lines, but it has a lot of heart, too. Meyers writes beautifully about a formerly good marriage ­— the simple joys of stability, the pleasures of veteran intimacy ­— and deftly dissects just how ugly things can get after infidelity.”

– The Boston Globe

Praise for The Murderer's Daughters

“From the very first page and straight on until the last, the clear and distinctive voice of Randy Susan Meyers’s will have you enraptured and wanting more--even though self- preservation may curl you into a ball to shield yourself from the painful circumstances of the two sisters. This is a heart- breaking and powerful novel.”

– Massachusetts Center for The Book, ‘Must Read Book’

“All too believable and heartbreaking.”

– Los Angeles Times

“Unshakable truths at every turn.”

– The Denver Post

“Dives fearlessly into a tense and emotional story of two sisters anchored to one irreversible act of domestic violence."

– The Miami Herald

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