The Manager by A.K. Wilson – a powerful contemporary story of the City and two unique women who work there

The Manager by A.K. Wilson

The City of London is a place of ambition, power and money, and Katy has always worked there. Not that she is ambitious, or in search of power and money, but she works for people who are fighting everyday for all three. Assisting, helping, covering for – all words for what she does, what she has always done for the men who employ her. After all, it’s what she knows, even though a strong work ethic is what destroyed her childhood. All this seems destined to change, however, when she meets the charismatic, powerful and yet enigmatic Riley Daniels. For the CEO of a company charged with secret information, Riley seems open to other things than just riding roughshod over those who work for her, but is that really the case? How much will Riley demand of Katy, and how much is she willing to give?

This is a stylish and brilliantly written contemporary novel with many elements. Wilson has recreated a world of the City which extends from the unique buildings, all given their names by those in the know, to the coffee shops and specialist suppliers of high end luxury items. She has populated it with the workers, who are driven by their lifestyle of long hours for big rewards, at least in theory, at whatever the sacrifice. Katy knows it well, the obsessive men she has worked for as a near nameless assistant, the person who manages their diary and even elements of their private lives, selecting gifts for wives and silently knowing more than they suspect. Katy recalls her story in her own distinctive voice, drab and largely unnoticed, until the breakthrough of a new job, even a new role. Including elements of thriller, romance and commentary on contemporary society, this is a truly enthralling book that I devoured with great interest and enjoyment. Feminist in a different way, it has so much to say as a story of two women in a world that is not ready for them. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this intoxicating debut novel.

When Katy is made redundant from being an assistant to the departing Giles, who would be surprised if he ever stopped to realise how much she knew about him, she has to look for another, similar role. Friendless and lonely in London,  no one stops her to point out that maybe she is capable of more. When she applies for the intriguing post of “loyal, trustworthy assistant” she is mildly surprised that the role demands vetting and extreme discretion, and yet applies without further research. When she arrives for an interview she soon realises that she has misjudged everything, that the Chief Executive is the unique Riley, and that the meeting is like no other. The company building is a revelation, but not as much as Riley herself, whose requests and demands are like no other boss she has ever met. The other employees are also a puzzling assortment of people,especially Cam. As Katy is drawn into the dizzying orbit of the attractive Riley, nothing will ever be the same.

This is such an exciting and readable novel with so many reasons to recommend it,as the author has obviously immersed herself in so many elements of the City, the secret world of those who work there, and imagined something and someone very different. Katy and Riley are wonderful characters, the writing is fresh and powerful,and the plot is fascinating. An excellent discovery!