From Publishers Weekly
A victim of Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme, mom and former Self magazine editor-in-chief Penney (How to Make Love to a Man), hyperventilates her way through this intriguing memoir of putting it back together. Finding herself almost entirely without money, Penney faces the unexpected need to retrench with a daunting sense of paranoia; brought up by aloof parents, Penney lived for a long time with a chronic, seemingly irrational fear of becoming a destitute bag lady. As a "Person of Reduced Circumstances", Penney bolsters herself with chin-up wisdom ("unless you've been mummified, you have choices and alternatives") and bravely vows to apply her own nail polish while eulogizing her days as an expensively-dressed editrix at Conde Nast. While she ponders lists labeled "money can still buy" and "money can't buy," a collection of well-heeled and influential friends encourage her with quotes from Emerson, invitations to the Caribbean and tax advice. With considerations like, "Is it worse to have had money and lost it? Or is it worse to never have had money at all?" Penney can be an (admittedly) unsympathetic protagonist, but her struggle is genuine, her charm expansive and surprising, and her strength winning.
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When the bags are emblazoned with gilt-edged logos from Prada and Gucci, it’s hard to muster up much sympathy for Penney’s woebegone tale of having to sell the Palm Beach and Long Island vacation homes, sleep on reduced thread-count sheets, and downsize her Starbucks order from venti to grande. One of Bernie Madoff’s more vocal and vituperative victims, Penney channeled her rage over losing her hard-earned savings into a popular blog on The Daily Beast. As a former editor of Self magazine and best-selling author, Penney was no stranger to hard work or glamour, and in the face of her fiscal crisis, learned she had to focus on the former to help her cope with the loss of the latter. Perhaps as a way of justifying her reason to whine, Penney balances her litany of petty grievances and paralyzing distress with a jaunty chronicle of her storied career in high-stakes publishing, and offers practical, hard-won counsel for any woman facing any kind of adversity. --Carol Haggas