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Extravagance: A Novel Paperback – September 9, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway (September 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767913310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767913317
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,689,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Krist (Chaos Theory; Bad Chemistry) uses the analogous market excesses of the 1690s and the 1990s as dual, parallel settings for a young mans journey up the business ladder as he tries to make his fortune through the stock market. The protagonist of this syncopated narrative is Will Merrick, a precocious young man who moves to the city to try to fulfill his rags-to-riches dreams: in 17th-century London he is a stock jobber whose task is to try to capitalize on such new technologies as winches and drainage engines, and on Wall Street during the frenetic dot-com days of the late 1990s he is a financial spy in a high-stakes IPO deal. While he makes his way through the two labyrinthine monetary worlds, a romantic subplot finds Merrick wooing (in both timelines) the rich, strong-willed and mischievous Eliza Fletcher, who leads him through a series of on-again, off-again dates and interludes that cause Merrick to question his identity as a clever rich guy on the make. Krist pulls off an impressive feat with his careful plotting as Merrick bounces back and forth between eras, opportunities and moral quandaries; unfortunately, the London in the 1690s part of the narrative fades as the book progresses, and the love affair is competent but rarely compelling. Nonetheless, Krists ambition is laudable, and the novel is a worthwhile read, especially when he gets his complex narrative to click on all cylinders.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Krist (Chaos Theory) has written a morality tale about unrestrained market speculation and a lust for monetary gain by any means. Depicted is the coming of age of Will Merrick on Wall Street at the dawn of the market crash of the 21st century and simultaneously during a similar market boom and crash during the final decade of the 17th century on London's Exchange Alley. With no particular interests beyond making money, Merrick does not care about the moral or ethical ambiguities of his methods. But greed is causing him to flounder in his personal life, and even before losing his shirt in the market, he begins to reform. Krist seamlessly moves the action from one century to the other, belying the novel's oft-repeated sentiment that the lessons of history are for the foolish. Krist provides the reader with a painless lesson that entertains as well as informs and perhaps contributes to the reader's sense of indignation. Recommended for all libraries with contemporary fiction collections. Rebecca Stuhr, Grinnell Coll. Libs., IA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gail Moore on August 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
Quoting from the blurb on its back cover, Extravagance is a novel of "financial mania" and is set in two time periods - London in the 1690's and New York in the 1990's. It is a single story, that of William Merrick, an ambitious young man. who comes to stay with his uncle in the big city, but moves from one time period to another, for example he could be having lunch with his uncle in 17th century England, leave and step into a cab in New York 20th century. The same characters are having parallel lives and interactions with each other in both time periods. This simply happens and is never explained to the reader, are they time travelers, a group reincarnation, a dream?????? It seems the only reason we are constantly shifted back and forth is to demonstrate the similarities in the two periods with regard to stock trading and sudden wealth. Though the book's concept is intriguing and includes some clever and witty writing the actual plot simply did not hold my attention. The cliche characters are totally one dimensional, shallow, greedy and predictable in every way.

Perhaps OK for someone who enjoys historical fiction about money, particularly stock market money.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a really excellent novel--a page-turner--but a lot more than that. It's an exploration of how human nature created the financial bubble that just burst. Krist sets the novel on two separate but parallel tracks--Wall Street at the end of the 20th century and London at the end of the 17th century, when stocks were fairly new and exotic things. Krist has done his homework; the historical sections are authentic, making you feel as if you've been transported to another world. But, however different the language and customs of 1690s Londoners from 1990s New Yorkers, the action in both places revolves around human universals: ambition, love, temptation, and certainly greed. That's why Krist can weave the two stories into a single narrative that gains momentum as it proceeds. This is a high-wire act, and he pulls it off.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Luciano VINE VOICE on July 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
William Merrick is a bright and driven young man who leaves his large family in the country to make his fortune in the big city. He is fortunate that his uncle has agreed to take Will under his wing, although Will has his own ideas about his career path, and they don't include being stuck in his uncle's business.

Because of Will's likable personality and aggressive way of taking chances and going after what he wants, he is able to achieve some measure of success, while finding himself further and further entrenched in ethical quandaries that sometimes force him to blur his morals in order to get ahead.

This story is as true for a young man in London in the 1690s as it is for a young man in New York in the 1990s. This novel skillfully tells both stories. In alternating sections, William is that young Londoner interested in getting in on the rights to an acquaintence's new winch, and also the New Yorker dabbling in the stock market and on the cutting edge of a new internet technology. The frenzied pace of both time periods is the same, as is Will's drive to impress his bosses, prove his worth, and win the hand of the beautiful and wealthy Eliza.

I loved the parallel stories, and the shift in language and situation from one section to the next. I thought the romance portion of the book was weak, though, with no explanation as to Will and Eliza's relationship. She was unkind to him and unpleasant, and I saw no reason why he continued to pursue her throughout the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pohle on January 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A friend's writing group suggested reading this book. While not great literature, the way Krist depicts the financial excesses of 1690s London and 1990s New York through the same-named characters kept my interest. A very unique approach and I think he carries it off well.
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