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Pen Pals

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  820 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Goldsmith's novels have been hailed by critics and authors alike-the New York Times said she "tells a credible and deeply satisfying tale. It should give pause to jerks everywhere." Newsweek compared her to Jane Austen dealing black jack, "you keep licking your fingers and reaching for the next page as if it were another potato chip." Scott Turow hailed her as "one of our ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by Dutton Adult (first published January 1st 2002)
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Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this book and loved it even more than the second time. the main character isn't very likeable in the first few chapters, but she does redeem herself by the end of he book. I loved it and would read for a third time for sure.

Jennifer, a player on Wall Street, accepts to take the fall for her boss when the SEC investigates the company she works for. Her fiance the company lawyer, has convinced her he can get her off easily.
May 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
This book is just as stupid as it's yellow and pink cover belies. I ignored it many times in the library because Goldsmith's wit and nasty streak seemed to only shine in two of her works, and the few others I have picked up seemed to only show the weakness in her writing and none of her talent. PP is not exception.
I picked it up because it was recommended, and while I can see how it is a somewhat uplifting and moralistic tale, overall it was so painfully obvious and preachy and ridiculous that i
Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I have been a huge Olivia Goldsmith fan since 'First Wives Club'. This book was well written with strong characters. Jennifer is imprisoned because of a corporate crime that she did participate in. However, she was also set up as the fall gal. Through her time in prison she begins to learn respect for the other prisoners and realizes that conditions need to be improved in the prison. Using her financial savvy and her connections in the outside world she is able to turn the prison around. The pri ...more
Julie Laumark
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the way Olivia Goldsmith wrote. This book, though very far fetched in places, provided great insight on the lives & plight of women in prison. Jennifer Spencer, like many of her sentenced counterparts, is in the "big house" because of men. Her anger, growth, friendships & frustrations are chronicled in great detail by Goldsmith's talented hand. We list post this amazing wordsmith much too soon!
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this on the recommendation of a friend, after I complained about how many depressing books I had read recently. It not only cheered me up, it educated me on what is itself a fairly depressing topic: Our prison system, and the "outsourcing" of prison management.
Aug 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Vlammend Hart neemt Olivia Goldsmith mee in de donkere wereld van de gevangenis. Vanwege haar naïviteit zit Jennifer Spencer vast vanwege handelen met voorkennis. Haar verloofde breekt het natuurlijk af met haar, omdat hij zich niet kan vertonen bij zijn familie met een gedetineerde. Of was het allemaal van te voren bedacht? Dat ze gelogen hadden en haar de schuld op zich hadden laten nemen, en zij was er in getrapt? Dan rest de vraag wat Jennifer gaat doen met haar tijd in de gevangenis. Bli ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: women-s-fiction
This is the first novel I've read by this author and I wasn't disappointed. Full of witty and entertaining characters, yet quick and fun.

From back cover:

"This was not supposed to happen. Wall Street wiz Jennifer Spencer took the rap for her powerful boss on insider trading charges-barely questioning his assurances that she'd never actually be convicted. Now she's exchanged her Armani suit for an orange jumpsuit, and she's settling in at the Jennings Correctional Facility for Women. And her well-
Sep 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Jennifer Spencer, financial whiz, agrees to take the 'rap' for her fiancee Tom on insider trading charges. Tom has agreed to make appeals and get her out quickly and in the meantime she will be at a country club jail. Not so!! Tom is a rat and soon Jennifer, besides being dumped is at Jennings Correctional Facility in an orange jumpsuit. Jennifer is rich, spoiled and self-absorbed.

After a very rocky beginning, Jennifer finds herself on Movita's team along with Suki, Cher, and Theresa. Jennifer s
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Beach bunnies
Shelves: chick-lit
This was, surprisingly, less about a chick and more of a social commentary. The cover is deceiving because you think it's a fluffy chick lit story about a girl who writes letters or something (note: I don't read the backs of books, I look at the covers. Whoever writes the backs of novels is tainting the reading experience because no matter how objective they think they are, they always put some of their own opinion in the summary). It's not and it's funny and smart. It delves in to world of pris ...more
Jan 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goldsmith admits that of all the novels she has written in her career, Pen Pals has been her most difficult. She wrote this book to expose some of the evils and inequities that exist in the prison system. The result is a raw, surprisingly uplifting, hopeful, and empowering story about a woman who wrongly goes to jail. WARNING: This story takes place inside a womens correctional facility and has graphic language and sexual content. Definitely a mature read and not for those easily offended. Altho ...more
This book may be chick lit but I found it neither funny nor trivial. Jennifer Spencer is a wall street broker who is tricked into taking the fall for her bosses on insider trading. It is quite a shock to her to end up in jail. The first half of the book is taken up with telling us about jail and how awful it is. This is done in a light manner, but I found the author to be quite serious about this subject and it is disturbing to read about the conditions and injustices in our penal system. The se ...more
Jessica Perez-Beardsley
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reading this book was like watching OITNB (Orange is the new black), without the lesbian encounters. This book was definitely a good read, but...I can't help but feel as if Olivia Goldsmith was freakin ripped off! And she's dead! I mean seriously...the similarities are wayyyy too obvious! The main character, Jennifer Spencer, is a lot like Piper. Suki is Lorna. At this point I don't remember the rest of the characters offhand, but I do know that I could compare each one to those of OITNB.

That be
Okay - so it was not what I expected, but I was overall pleasantly surprised by what it was instead. It was about a women who was sent to prision for her boss's financial blunders and her path to changing herself. There were portions of the book where I was thinking, "Oh come on, Yeah right!" However, I overall did not want to stop reading the book becuase it did not follow the exact plot-line that I was predicting that it would (it followed it somewhat, but there were a couple of unexpected dif ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"Meet Jennifer - a smart, sexy woman who has made good in a man's world. A major player on The Street, Jennifer agrees to take the fall when her boss is caught playing fast and loose with the SEC. After all, her fiance is a lawyer with the connections to get her off.

Instead, Jennifer ends up in Jennings Correctional Facility for Women, a world a whole lot tougher than Wall Street. Inside she meets a lively group of smart, tough women: crew leader Movita, crazy Cher, blindly optimistic T
Jan 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was the first Olivia Goldsmith book I've read and I have to say that I did enjoy this book and plan on trying out another of her books when I get the chance. While the plot was a little unrealistic (esp the chapter before the epilogue with Lenny & Jennifer),with all the women's lives turned around,and the bad guys got what was coming to them (though I wish more could have happened to them), what I enjoyed about this book was that it was light, fast-paced, cute, & funny. While it was ...more
May 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
Wonderfu lbook. Fantastic storyteller. Rich characters. Perfect dialogue. A Wall Street trader takes the fall for her boss for inside trading, secure that her lawyer fiance and boss will get her pardoned or appealed if by some quirk she's convicted. Shocked that she's sentenced to prison, Jennifer Spencer believes she'll get out in a day, receive special treatment, because her fiance and boss promised. An inside look at women's prisons in a fictional context--although harsh, still lightened up f ...more
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bee-shelf, hive-2011
I really liked this book and it was very realistic up to the point where the inmates became the stockholders of the private company that took over the state run prison. Then it just got to far-fetched for me. Overall its a great self-development novel for all the women who might not have had the best of life handed to them.

I liked Jennifer at the end. At the beginning she was shallow and just plain stupid. Who takes the fall for insider trading for someone else? She ended up learning alot about
May 11, 2008 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I had read all of her other stuff and had a hard time getting my hands on this one at the library. I do not think I have ever read a book about life in a women's prison and it was an eye opener to the horrors they deal with, which is nothing as this was fictionalized. I like the book both because most of the characters were interesting and because I learned something I knew nothing about.
Worth reading but not exactly a "beach read" if you want to read fluff this time
Nethra Ram
Jul 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Good lord what a boring book! 60 pages in and I couldn't find one character worth reading about but the biggest joke is the heroine who is colossally dumb! She's been duped by her bosses into shouldering blame for fraud and is sent to prison and all she does is ramble like an incoherent idiot about how someone would've called ahead and would be on their way to getting her out of there. I wonder if the author was at all thinking when she has one character describe this nutcase as 'too smart for h ...more
Sep 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Wow, what a treat this book was. Both the story, and the telling of it, were attention-grabbing. Prominent woman gets sent to jail as scapegoat for white collar crime and learns what the other side of life looks like. I learned a lot – about why people do what they do, the penal system (in particular, the issue of privatization of prisons) and activism. But in a funny (yes!) and easy-to-relate-to setting. My only complaint is one I have of many novelists…they spend too much time upfront and then ...more
Sep 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Ik was blij verrast over Vlammend hart. Een leuk tussendoor boek. Ik vond het alleen jammer dat er zoveel werd geschreven over aandelen en alles wat daarbij komt kijken. Het kan aan mij liggen, maar ik weet daar verdomd weinig van en daarom snapte ik ook niet alles eerlijk gezegd. Ook vond ik het jammer dat je aan het begin al weet wat Jennifer’s aanbod is. Maar goed, zijn alle chicklits niet een beetje voorstelbaar met een goed einde? Dus dit had ik kunnen verwachten. En ik vond het ook niet zo ...more
Mar 19, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
This book was absolute rubbish. Another book that I gave the good old try and had to toss.

Olivia's character development is close to nonexistent. She has one character who starts every sentence with "Well you know what they say about..."

The characters are very 2 dimensional, the setting is described with repetitive words, the plot does not build after the initial climax, and none of the characters really develop.

I do NOT recommend this book and wish I had read these reviews before picking it up.
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: yes
This isn't hardcore like the HBO series "Oz" which depicted men's prison but this was light and didn't really depict any graphic horrors of prison life. It is storyline about Jennifer Spencer who is basically a good person, smart and worked hard for her success on Wallstreet and jumped at an opportunity to receive a huge promotion by taking the fall for inside trading. Her greed and naivety was her downfall and she believes that her lawyer fiance and her boss have her back.
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Историята не е достоверна. Главната героиня ми лазеше по нервите. Краят беше добър, главно защото не очаквах това, което се случи. Като цяло даста слаба книга, която не мога да препоръчам.

The story was not believable. The main character was such an annoyance for me. The ending was good mainly because I didn't expect the things that happen. Overall I can't recommend this book.
Oct 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was a re-read for me. I LOVED this book the first time and loved it again the 2nd time - there are some very witty quips "she had an irony deficiency" and I just like the story - what goes around comes around. This author died many years ago - but I like all her books, I'll have to re-visit some of the others as well. Her best know one is "The First Wives Club" - made into a movie.
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyble book that follows a female who got caught on insider trading charges on Wall Street and ends up in a female prison. Subtle humour and her interaction with other prisoners makes this book what it is.A good read with a lot going for it. Nuff said.I don't want to give away how it all turns out in the end.
Eva Leger
Aug 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This isn't my type of book usually but I somehow got my hands on it a few years ago and really liked it. It's ending is rather "happy" and not at all reality based but so what I say. I got really into all of the characters, not just the mail one. I'm going to look for more of this authors books soon and I just mooched this from bookmooch to read again- it was such a fun read!
Sep 02, 2012 rated it did not like it
As someone who once worked in the criminal justice system, I think the book was a little bit overkill in the "rehabilitation" department. It all looks good on paper,but in reality it just doesn't play out. The heroine of this book, turns a women's prison around with more rule breaking and deception. Not cool, Olivia. People work in those prisons!
Kim DeGiulio Goecke
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
The story was interesting, fairly well written. At the beginning I couldn't put it down but towards the end it was moving slowly and I found myself wanting to skip pages. The story of women prisoners intrigued me but some of what happened was unbelievable. I won't read it again and probably wouldn't recommend it to a friend.
May 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
You could call this the girl version of the Green Mile... but with more sass. A bit of dark humor mixed with sweet revenge, but overall a fast and fun read. I appreciated the pithy opening quotes, and it left me wanting to learn more about the women in the prison system.
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Olivia Goldsmith (January 1, 1949 - January 15, 2004) was an American author, best known for her first novel The First Wives Club (1992), which was adapted into the movie The First Wives Club (1996).

She was born Randy Goldfield in Dumont, New Jersey, but changed her name to Justine Goldfield and later to Justine Rendal. She took up writing following a divorce in which she said her husband got almo
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