How much money is enough? How powerful do you want to be? And what price will it extract from you? An intriguing, powerful and hard-hitting novel set in the world of big money and big deals, written by a leading business insider. Charles lives in the testosterone-driven, high-powered, brutal world of investment banking. It is a world dominated by deals, bonuses, bravado and savagery. Charles is a master of this world. Each day he shrugs on a metaphorical suit of armour and goes out into a dog-eat-dog world to accumulate power and make money. He's a man who is familiar with casual brutality - his childhood saw to that.
But there is a price to pay. Now, at the peak of his career, his armour is rusted and bloodstained and no longer protecting him the way it once did. He finds himself empty. Always cold. No friends. A family that is falling apart.
Over the course of two days, everything in Charles' life comes into question. His carefully constructed world is starting to splinter - and he's splintering too.
Shocking and at times immensely moving, Man in Armour is a compelling story of a man at the end of his tether, written with a sharp-eyed, incisive focus that also carries real emotional - and moral - resonance. Written by an ultimate business insider - a woman who knows intimately and at first hand this world of power, money and deal-making - this novel carries an undeniable authenticity and force.
'The detailed setting of the finance world - the highs and lows, cutthroat practices and relentless pace -is vividly rendered ... Man in Armour is very readable' Bookseller+Publisher
'There's no doubt McKenna can write a page-turner' Sydney Morning Herald
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Don’t bank on it
Australian. B. Econ from ANU and M. Phil (international relations) from Cambridge. Currently Group Director (Broadcasting) for News Corp, board member of Nova Entertainment, Woolworths Australia, Illyria Pty Ltd, AMCIL, Foxtel, Australian News Channel, Fox Sports, and a trustee of the MCG Trust. Previously commissioner at the Australian Productivity Commission, chairman of NBNCo, and partner at McKinsey. Now she's written a novel. (Makes you wonder what you've been doing with your life, doesn't it?) She has three kids and lives in Melbourne, which means she doesn't get out much at present, but I understand she's been writing this for a few years, i.e., long before lockdown.
Charles Eastgate is a big wheel in investment banking in the City (London, for those who don't know). A renowned dealmaker, we meet him as he pulls an all nighter to close out a mega-merger, the biggest coup of his career, a deal no one thought could be done. His wife's a hot-shot paediatrician and medical researcher, whom he loves, and his kids are adorable, although he doesn't get to see much of them, or her. His employer is delighted with him, but he's p***ed off. He should be running his own show and make real money, not working as a "wage slave" for a bank where the chairman of the board is a "grocer" (read former owner of a major retail conglomerate) who doesn't think much of investment bankers, and wants to get rid of that part of the business. Our boy grew up on a hereditary country estate, now on its last legs financially, although his physically and psychologically abusive autocratic father can't accept that. Neither can Mummy, who has a broken arm thanks to hubby, but is more concerned why she can't have a nice little place in Knightsbridge any more. Both of them used to beat up on our boy back in the day, so he got out and made good on his own. Despite all the baggage, he manages to tough things out stiff-upper-lip style until he can't any more. Stuff happens as Chas tries to find meaning in his life. Parental advisory: there's an official enquiry into the financial services industry.
Charles is difficult to warm to, but you've got to feel sorry for him sometimes. No worries if you don't though. He has more than enough self pity to be going on with. Spoiler alert: he grows some cojones by the end. The other characters lack nuance.
Third person from the POV of main protagonist
Crisp, tight prose that makes the intricacies of investment banking comprehensible, well, partial comprehensible.
Your feelings about this book will depend on the level of interest your harbour regarding investment banking. In my case, quite a lot, which is what dragged me in. I found the interpersonal bitchiness and crazy rich white guy excesses that made up the remainder of the book derivative and somewhat melodramatic. More high pressure deals would have suited me better. It's a solid first effort nonetheless.
Fast paced, clever and absolutely accurate rendering of the business world.
This is a sit-and-read in one day book. Loved it.