The title and first 40 pages of this book are misleading. From those one might think the book is about wealthy British socialites who must reluctantly adjust to living in the country, and all the wacky antics that ensue. It is about that, sort of, at first, but it’s also Shark Tank in a novel.
Izzie Stock’s and Maddy Hoare’s husbands have dragged them and the kids out of London and into the English countryside, and the ladies are just miserable about it. They find common ground with one another and are grateful to have an ally in an otherwise unbearable setting, but their relationship goes into overdrive when Maddy’s husband is killed in a car accident and Izzie steps in to take care of her new friend. During Maddy’s recovery period the two discover an old recipe book — for cosmetics, not food — from Maddy’s fabulous French great-great-grandmother, and a small business is born. Izzie and Maddy set to work creating little pots of “healing cream”, basically a super-moisturizer, and it immediately becomes the most in-demand product in all of Great Britain. With the help of Maddy’s cousin, step-father and PR agent friend, the former housewives create a genuine cosmetics brand with real offices, shares, staff, buyout offers and everything.
There are of course some romantic entanglements in the novel, including an odd love trial (I’ll never understand how it’s considered OK for cousins to date and get married across the pond) and a not-so-happy marriage, but, for the first time in a while I was not all that interested in those parts. Instead I was fascinated by the formation of their business, constantly asking Mr. Wonderful-esque questions in my head: “But how much profit are they making? How will they keep up with the demand? How are they paying themselves and their employees?”
Honestly, a year ago I probably wouldn’t have been a big fan of this book, but Shark Tank has really turned me around. I’m not opening my own business or inventing anything anytime soon, I just have a new-found respect for small businesses and entrepreneurship and all that jazz. I highly recommend both the book and the TV show!