Buying In: Book summary and reviews of Buying In by Laura Hemphill

Buying In

By Laura Hemphill

Buying In
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2013,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

It's October 2007, and twenty-two-year-old Sophie Landgraf is a small-town girl who hopes her new job as a Wall Street analyst will be her ticket to the American elite. She knew that giving her life over to the bank would be hard on her boyfriend, family, and friends, but she hadn't realized it would send her into a spiral of self-doubt. After four months in this fast-paced, male-dominated world, Sophie is floundering-and things are about to get worse.

Boom times can't last forever. With the crash looming and layoffs inevitable, Sophie's attractive but ruthless boss Ethan Pearce pulls her into a multibillion-dollar merger that could make or break their careers. The problem? Ethan, devoted family-man Vasu Kumar, and straight-talking Ohio executive Jake Hutchinson each have very different reasons for advancing the merger, and Sophie doesn't know who to trust. When the deal goes awry, she must decide how far she'll go to get what she wants.

Set inside the fortresses of high finance, Manhattan's after-hours clubs, and factories in the Midwest and India, this is the high-powered, heartfelt story of a young woman finding her footing on Wall Street as it crumbles underneath her. Written by an industry veteran, Buying In tackles what it means to be a woman in a man's world, and how to survive in big business without sacrificing who you are.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The world of high finance provides a thrilling setting for Hemphill's fine debut about survival in a cutthroat business where millions of dollars are at stake and the wrong comment can cost you your job." - Kirkus

"The author, who paid her own dues at Lehman Brothers and other firms, clearly knows her way around Wall Street, but, more importantly, can make us care about her characters' successes and failures, against a formidable backdrop rife with competition, backstabbing, and soul-searching." - Publishers Weekly

"I read Buying In in one sitting. It sucks you into an adrenaline vortex, obliterating everything but the deal." - Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Why Women Still Can't Have It All, is the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and the former Director of Policy Planning, United States Department of State

"With assured prose, a compulsively readable plot, and insider savvy, Buying In offers a front-row seat to the downfall of Wall Street, with a terrific young heroine who outmans the men without sacrificing her soul." - Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Bad Mother and Daughter's Keeper

"Buying In is an absorbing and affecting study of high finance and the toll it takes on one's non-capitalistic identity, with much to say about gender in the workplace, from a bright new literary talent." - Teddy Wayne, author of  The Love Song of Jonny Valentine and Kapitoil

"Laura Hemphill deftly pulls off a hat trick, offering readers an insider's clear-eyed take on the subprime lending crisis, a chilling look at the lives of women in banking, and a briskly entertaining coming of age story." - Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of A Fortunate Age

"A stunning debut which is sure to catapult the author onto must-read lists." - Allison Amend, author of A Nearly Perfect Copy

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Therese X. (Calera, AL)
Amazing insight into a powerful world
Sophie Landgraf, a brilliant Yale finance graduate from a small Midwestern town is hired into a high-powered New York Wall Street firm as an Analyst, a "spreadsheet intern" collating documents and trends of large companies who show promise for Sterling Company to enrich their reputation and their coffers.  Plunging herself into the job, Sophie pulls all-nighters, and stokes herself with coffee to keep her foot in the door, hoping the Managing Director will take her seriously. 

At the beginning of the novel, her intense 24 hour job feels claustrophobic as she sleeps in her cubicle just long enough to take a breather when no one else is around. Then, to have another go at analyzing data and coming up with ideas to present to her reserved, perfectionist Director, Ethan Pearce, a handsome fifty-ish widower who shows no emotion or charisma because it would distract from his raison d'être--work. Sophie's immediate boss, Vasu Mehta, struggles between the demands of the Company and the remonstrations of his wife  who keeps reminding him his mother in India could die any moment, as if he could pick up and go there any time. His only comfort is the occasional slip outside with his pack of Parliament cigarettes. 

Oblivious to her boss's troubles, Sophie, young and hopeful, is delighted to be in the job she's always wanted working in high banking.  She tries to balance her personal life with the job, but Sterling expects their people to be perpetually on call, and she has to disappoint those she cares for, especially her widowed father who is unaware his daughter is buying his art sculpture under an assumed name to keep him pursuing his craft. He doesn't understand that she actually likes her job despite the unreasonable demands because she feels she can eventually succeed in the corporation. Sophie's naiveté and common sense surprises everyone,  including their client, at a big teleconference with her idea for modeling a merger between two metal companies. The project has personal and global  effects, with an eye-opening view of how companies are run and how far people will go and what values they will discard for power and huge amounts of money.

"Buying In" is a fast-paced and engrossing account of  Wall Street and corporate America at the edge of the sub-prime fiasco. Sophie Landgraf is a young but determined character who keeps the story together and often tempers the greed and heartlessness of layoffs and betrayals. Fighting to stay true to herself,  uncluttered by the ego and paranoia of her male-dominated world, she reveals what women are capable of in big business and finance.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Evonne L. (Lakeport, CA)
Buying In
I enjoyed reading this novel from beginning to end. With a very engaging story line, well defined characters, realistic motives, and some worthwhile truisms tucked in, the author tells a modern tale that is relevant, informational and entertaining all at once! The heroine in the book, Sophie Landgraf, struggles to fit in being true to herself in a corporate world full of deceit, questionable strategies and smoke and mirrors. Although I have experience in the mortgage industry, the book provides a great basic understanding of investment banking without going over the head of the reader; although it will be especially appealing to those employed in a financial career, anyone should be able to read and enjoy the book without getting lost in the setting of her world of work.

I love the personal details of Sophie's relationship with her father, her boyfriend, Will, and her best friend. All of these relationships provide insight into her character and endear her to the reader. I love the way her honesty and genuine instincts in dealing with a client earns her the respect deserving of good behavior. It is very interesting the way the author weaves Sophie's boss, Ethan, into the story as a possible love interest and then writes an appropriate and satisfying conclusion.

There were also a few great truisms in the book that made it an insightful pleasure to read. I liked, "pretend like you can handle it until you can actually handle it." A reference to "believing in the goodness of human nature" was also a great line in keeping with the theme of the book.

Writing from the perspective of different characters was done exceptionally well and kept the reader engaged and informed without getting confused.

I really enjoyed this book and definitely look forward to more from Laura Hemphill.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Neil W. (Tavares, FL)
First Rate in Many Resprcts
I found "Buying In" to be a first rate novel in many respects. Debut author, Laura Hemphill, demonstrates rare and wonderful accomplishments in her writing: a compelling plot, well-organized prose and character development that actually helps us understand the individual and group psychology behind current affairs. And yes, it's a "page turner" too. I feel the issues raised in "Buying In" can be generalized far beyond Wall Street, USA and the international banking industry. For those of us who continually wonder how our social institutions and political processes could have reached their current state, a careful read of this book can help us think about better ways to proceed. Hurray for Laura Hemphill and please read and pass-along "Buying In."

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Karen M. (Great Falls, VA)
A familiar tale with a twist
Laura Hemphill's debut novel, Buying In, does not following in the tradition of the Nanny Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada or Bridget Jones. It is not chick lit. But it does share some of the elements of these books in its character; a bright, ambitious twenty-two year old from a small west Massachusetts town comes to the big city to make money in a prestigious New York investment bank. The year is 2007, right before the banks collapse. Sophie, the main character, plays haunting tapes in her head of lectures by her disapproving parents, best friend and hipster boyfriend. The latter has no interest in her obsession pursuit of the vapid glitz and glamour she craves surrounding her new job and workmates. The question presented is will she "Buy In" to this world, and abandon everyone else? Even after experiencing the profession's ugly underbelly?

The author follows the old adage "write what you know." Like Sophie, Ms. Hemphill graduated from Yale and spent seven years in the N.Y. banking world. If you are not familiar with this life, this book will provide plenty of fast-paced action and investment banking background to acquaint you with this profession and it's ego, greed, dishonesty, risks and sacrifices. And it shares the rush that comes from the deal. Her story rings true to me. Even her addiction to copius amounts of Starbucks to work 23 hours per day, seven days per week, for months, in order to make the deal happen. The book ends as the first investment bank, Lehman Brothers, fails.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Rebecca K. (Chicagoland, IL)
Exhilarating ride on Wall Street
Debut novelist Laura Hemphill's "Buying In" is a compelling look behind the (fictional) scenes of the crisis on Wall Street. Both timely and intriguing, the novel is not only for readers with background knowledge of the banking industry. Told through alternating viewpoints of a recent college grad working as an analyst, a midlevel banker of foreign descent, a managing director of an industrial group, and the CEO of a struggling company, the story is fast-paced and surprisingly relatable. "Buying In" is a great read, and Hemphill is a promising author to watch.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Janet P. (Spokane, WA)
I didn't entirely buy in
Laura Hemphill tells a great story. If I had more than just one category with which to rate this book I would have given Ms. Hemphill a 5 for story, a 4 for quality writing and a 2 because of use of details that are quite hard to follow for a non-wall-street-wise reader. I struggled through overuse of long sections telling of subprime lending, along with a plethora of terms that are more than likely easily understood by stockbrokers and bankers but definitely not understood by me. The father/daughter relationship was believable and familiar to me as a mother of daughters who struggle to be different than their parents. However again, I had to spend too much time plodding through the wall-street terminology to understand the whole picture. The ending didn't improve my take on the book.

I won't ruin it for readers, but the ending was disappointing yet believable to me. All in all, I did keep reading but there were definitely parts that I really wanted to skip through, so an average rating seems realistic.

...14 more reader reviews

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After graduating from Yale, Laura Hemphill spent seven years on Wall Street, where she worked at Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse, and Dune Capital. Visit her at buyinginthebook.com from where you can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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