The Bookbag: “Delicious, cheeky look at life in the City”

Melanie is something of a wunderkind, a graduate at an investment bank with brains to match her body. In a male dominated environment she’s finding that one gets in the way of the other, but she’s a smart girl and can learn to play this to her advantage. With her friend Jenny keen to lead her astray, Mel must learn the give and take of life in the City, and how far to push the limits to get ahead.

With a title like Playing FTSE this book could have gone either way – triumph or train wreck. I was delighted to find it the former, and finished it in 6 hours straight after some particularly intense poolside sun lounger reading, on a well-earned break from my own high powered (ish) job. Much like life in a bank, this book is fast paced and you need to trot along in your high heels to keep up. No sooner is Melanie back from New York and she’s off to Paris, or Amsterdam or somewhere. No sooner has she ditched one man, she’s on to another then back to the first for round two. Live fast, die young, City girls do it well. It’s a brilliant, authentic read. I work a lot in London but am safely based in the north of England day to day. My only real experience of the capital C City of London was when I went for a work lunch in Paternoster Square last year. It was quite an experience. I was the only female in there who wasn’t a waitress, and we were the only table not drinking with our lunch. At the time I thought hmmmm but now I’ve read this book I’m less surprised by what I saw.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and raced through it. I liked the detachment of the third person narrative. We see what Melanie does, and what Melanie does next, but without the emotional drain of seeing it through her eyes, hearing her voice in our heads. It worked exceedingly well. In a way, it doesn’t have a defined ending, which leaves you free to imagine it going whichever way you please. I wouldn’t normally favour that but, again, it worked here.

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book. I feared superficial, but I got smart. I expected girly but I got guts and gumption. It hasn’t quite sold me on trading in health for finance, but it definitely gave me a glimpse into that world. For another look at this sort of world, more from the perspective of an outsider, we enjoyed What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill.