Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920’s, everyone in New York had heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon, she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth – all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune.
This is the mystery at the centre of Bonds, a successful 1938 novel that all of New York sems to have read. But there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit.
Longlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize, Trust was a book I had seen a fair bit of hype about, but as I picked it up to read I noticed a couple of less positive reviews, ‘a book about a book’, ‘four books in one’, ‘only two books made sense’. This made me feel a tad apprehensive, prize nominated fiction doesn’t always work for me – too literary – I know! That is such a broad and sweeping comment, plus I am a meticulous reader, I like the writing to be authentic, I check back details as I read, check points – does anyone else do this I wonder!
But I need not have worried, Trust was an epic read, it is vague in its presentation but the 4 books ‘within’ are obvious in where they fit. We begin with a novel about the fictional New York couple the Rasks – immensely rich due to his success on the stock market, a money man, blamed for the 1929 crash, with the implication that he manipulated the markets. HIs wife dying young in an institution during treatment for mental illness, at time stigmatising and shrouded in secrecy. But that was a work of fiction, but was it based on tycoon Andrew Bevel? He says it was and decides to take drastic legal action and is determined to share the truth, about the stock market and more importantly his wife.
The four stories together give different perspectives on this scenario and I loved the theme of Trust – namely the truth; what is it and who is to say? I didn’t find the book confusing, but it is a book that is truly appreciated once finished. There is detail about the world of stocks and shares – this is afterall one of the central themes of the book, along with questions about responsibility and morality but this was interesting and didn’t require any specific knowledge or insight.
I do think this book is a masterpiece and totally worthy of its prize nominated status, in my opinion it would have made a worthy winner of the 2022 Booker Prize, it feels like a classic read that will continue to be talked about over time. Another book I am recommending, not necessarily light fiction but more readable than I expected and one I find myself continuing to contemplate as I write this review.
About the Author
Hernan Diaz’s first novel, In The Distance, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. Trust is his second novel.