Alexandra Lebenthal to Pen the Great American Chick-Lit Novel


Many upwardly mobile females have made attempts to document their own personal financial crises this year, but so far none have emerged as the true voice of the Greatest Depression. The Daily Beast's Alexandra Penney and TARP wife Liz Peek were too unsympathetic and whiny. Hedge Fund Wives author Tatiana Boncampagni had uncouth, Jerry Springer–like family problems. The Huffington Post's Betsy Perry had a powerful voice, but was a little too crackpotty and, in the end, a little too racist. But today comes hope that something will emerge that will fulfill the world's craving for the story of the financial crisis in New York, as told from a chick-lit perspective. The Observer informs us that Alexandra Lebenthal, the CEO of wealth-management firm Lebenthal & Co and a socialite (We think this makes her a CEO-cialite?), has signed a deal with Hachette to write a novel based on a fictional column she's been writing for New York Social Diary.

“When we met, I was struck by the fact that she was what The Real Housewives of New York wish they could be,” said Karen Kosztolnyik, Ms. Lebenthal’s editor at Grand Central. “She had her feet firmly planted in the financial field, but she was also active on the New York social scene. I really liked the idea of this being a Bergdorf Blondes, Sex and the City kind of a book, but with the great twist of the economic collapse.”

Plus, she has the perfect pedigree: a Yorkie, children at Nightingale and Dalton, big jewelry, a mustachioed doorman at her building on East 96th Street — and her cousin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Buzz Bissinger ("Buzzie," as he is known within the fam), of whom we are a huge fan despite his issues with colleagues — is going to help her!* This should be great! Oh.

Except for one thing. The column is kind of unreadable. Here's a sample, from the most recent one:

Ultimately George was ready to take advantage of it himself so he could make more money. He and a few colleagues tired of waiting to make partner, established Broad Street Real Estate Partners, “BSRE,” in 2002. Their fund was designed to take advantage of rising commercial real estate prices, and for a while it worked when credit was freely available. They would find a premier property, put some of their own money in and borrow the rest through “securitization,” which isn’t too much different from cutting up a birthday cake. One wants a corner piece with the extra icing. Another will take the slice with the writing. She’s on a diet so give her a sliver, while another takes two pieces. And of course the birthday boy always gets the rose. It’s a nice analogy, but securitization has more at stake than the weight one might gain from an extra slice. The way securitizations sliced up the cake — or the purchase price based on the value of the building at acquisition — each slice had a certain return expectation based on risk of loss. Those slices (or “tranches,” in finance-speak) with the lowest risk of loss were the most senior in the securitization, and they carried a low return, while the equity slice carried the highest possible return based on the expectation for increasing the occupancy and rental rates in each building.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, sorry! Anyway, yeah, so good luck with that, Hachette.

*UPDATE: Ms. Lebenthal writes: "Sadly the Observer missed the word NOT when I said Buzz is NOT helping me."

Lady Lebenthal Lifts Her Pen [NYO]