Extravagance opens in London in the 1690s. The hero is William Merrick, a young man who comes to London to make his fortune. The story then moves ahead three hundred years, to Wall Street in the 1990s. The theme is making money by speculation–how it was done, how it is done. The story of William’s amorous and financial successes and defeats moves ahead by crisscrossing back and forth between 1690s London and 1990s New York. As strange as this sounds, it is easy to follow because there is only one storyline from start to finish, with the same cast of characters in the seventeenth century as in the twentieth.
Gary Krist has written an innovative, sometimes funny, always interesting novel about investment speculation in two different time periods. There may be one or two scenes where the change in time period jars a bit, but otherwise, the transitions are smooth, the story easy to follow. Anyone interested in the stock market and day trading will love Extravagance, and even those who do not follow events on Wall Street will find it a well-written and interesting book.