Rich Pickings

Fiction - Urban
236 Pages
Reviewed on 12/13/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In Rich Pickings by Axel van Reenen, as Jake Egerton leaves Oxford University, he is looking forward to beginning a new chapter in his life in the financial sector of London. He becomes an investment banker for Brasher Menthol in Canary Wharf and sets his sights on status, power, and wealth. Soon unimaginable rewards are on offer but Jake realizes they come at a price. He is soon prescribed medication by the organization's doctor for his anxiety and as the pressure of work mounts up, so does his daily intake of drugs. He gradually loses sight of who he is as he strives to follow in his boss Mark's footsteps. The battle to succeed and fit into the unforgiving corporate jungle engulfs him in a world he was not prepared for. Follow Jake's first year in the finance industry and the colorful characters he meets along the way.

The entire plot of Rich Pickings by Axel van Reenen is extremely compelling. I loved Jake's enthusiasm to succeed but you could slowly see his values and morals gradually being depleted as he tries so hard to be accepted and prove his worth. The scene at the beginning with the shoeshine boy from Eastern Europe was very powerful and highlights the attitude of those in power perfectly. Jake is a fantastic protagonist, his character is flawed but at his core, Jake is an extremely kind and caring person. He simply wants to make something of his life. I found the scenes where he is coerced into losing part of his character quite uncomfortable to read, but that is a testament to the incredible writing. The dialogue and events were really authentic to the personalities of the characters. The entire storyline gives you a very realistic insight into the corporate world and the internal battles to succeed. It would be very interesting to discover where Jake's career goes in the future.

Edith Wairimu

Through diary entries, Rich Pickings by Axel van Reenen provides a compelling account of the nerve-wracking, competitive world of investment banking. Jake Egerton moves to London after completing university to begin his career in emerging market finance. At Brasher Menthol, a reputable US top-five investment bank, Jake is introduced to Mark, his new manager. His first project involves helping an Africa-based power company issue a US dollar bond. Jake assimilates into the fast-paced culture of Brasher Menthol while continuously battling feelings of fear and inadequacy. He discusses his work life and other more light-hearted topics with his friends Wes, who is a junior portfolio manager, and Tim, a privileged friend who for a long time claims to be working on his doctorate of philosophy.

Rich Pickings by Axel van Reenen offers an authentic look into the world of finance through the life of the main character. A New Zealander who studied in the UK through a scholarship, Jake continuously struggles to justify the worth of his career. The markets’ unpredictable turns and the constant expectation to perform harder add to his anxiety. I loved that book is organized into distinct entries that provide specific details about what happens each day. Conversations included are also engaging. While Jake experiences big wins, other unexpected events also occur that make the book suspenseful. Rich Pickings by Axel van Reenen contains a thought-provoking discussion on the purpose of a career in finance versus its financial rewards while also providing informative, realistic details about the world of investment banking.

Romuald Dzemo

Rich Pickings: A Novel by Axel van Reenen is a fascinating story filled with realism that follows an interesting protagonist pursuing a career in finance. Jake Egerton finishes university and moves to London where he gets a job in investment banking. He is filled with dreams and enthusiasm, but he is far from understanding that the corporate world is more twisted and different from anything he has studied. Jake quickly discovers the world of financial risks, hard decisions, and choices that can bring rich pickings or total loss. But is this a world where he can succeed? The answer to this question is as surprising as it is satisfying.

This is a beautifully written story, a swift ride for readers who love excellent prose and strong characters. I was pulled in by the author’s storytelling skills and the ability to give life to the characters. The characters are real, whether they are partying, working, profiling a prospect, or just going about their normal business. And the way the characters relate to each other is well captured in the writing. The descriptions are terrific, from characters like Emily, her features glistening with sweat as she tries to work her magic on Chris to moments like the general atmosphere in a party with a mass of bodies in motion.

The setting is vividly described and images fill the imagination of the reader like the stunning view of London, the Thames curving lazily around Canary Wharf, then disappearing from view after the small but unmistakable silhouette of Tower Bridge in the distance. Axel van Reenen gives more strength to the voice with a first-person narrative that is intimate and compelling. Rich Pickings: A Novel is a gorgeously written, cunningly plotted, and character-driven story that is delightful in many literary aspects. It is an entertaining piece for readers.