Whisper Network (Baker)

Whisper Network 
Chandler Baker, 2019
Flatiron Books
352 pp.

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita have worked at Truviv, Inc. for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company.

Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. Those whispers have been ignored, swept under the rug, hidden away by those in charge.

But the world has changed, and the women are watching this promotion differently. This time, when they find out Ames is making an inappropriate move on a colleague, they aren’t willing to let it go.

This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.

Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand sets in motion a catastrophic shift in the office. Lies will be uncovered. Secrets will be exposed. And not everyone will survive. All of their lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.

"If only you had listened to us," they tell us on page one of Chandler Baker's Whisper Network, "none of this would have happened." (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—ca. 1986-87
Rasied—Sarasota, Florida, USA
Education—B.A., University of Pennsylvania; J.D., University of Texas
Currently—lives in Austin, Texas

Chandler Baker lives in Austin with her husband and youg daughter where she also works as a corporate attorney. Whisper Network is her adult debut. Chandler is the author of the young adult thriller, Alive (2015), as well as the High School Horror series (2016-2018). (From the publisher.)

Book Reviews
A delicious and timely thriller.… Part soapy shocker (one of the characters is keeping a very big secret) and part legal thriller (excerpts from depositions offer a glimpse into the third act). Think Big Little Lies meets the famous 2017 list of men in the media industry accused of sexual harassment.
New York Times Book Review

Fast, sharp and funny.
New York Post

Vivid and compelling, offering an insider’s perspective on the true cost of female ambition in the workplace…. Read this novel for a spirited take on the rage that simmers just below the surface of today’s woman in the corner office, the cubicle or the break room.
USA Today

This novel opens a conversation about challenging a man in power, but also contains all of the best components of a murder mystery.

A sort of Big Little Lies in a Texas power suit, Whisper offers a crackling exposé of working motherhood, corporate malfeasance, and female friendship in the era of #MeToo.… Baker] captures keenly what it means to be a modern woman in an old boys’ world.
Entertainment Weekly

[A]n engrossing, bracingly funny thriller.… Baker, a corporate lawyer…, clearly knows her protagonists' conflicting professional and personal worlds, though she goes a bit overboard with plot twists toward the end. This empowering novel is sure to resonate with many readers in the #MeToo era.
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review) [T]hriller, a murder mystery, and an anthem for any woman who has ever hit a glass ceiling, been the brunt of sexual innuendo, or felt harassed in the workplace. Smart, articulate, and witty, it will resonate with a huge audience. —Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA
Library Journal

(Starred review) A compulsively readable mystery with a strong message. Don't miss it.

(Starred review) Viciously funny and compulsively readable.…  It's a breezy page-turner of a book, which is the brilliance of it: Under the froth is an unmistakable layer of justified rage. Over-the-top in all the right ways.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. "If only you’d listened to us, none of this would have happened," the reader is told in the prologue. Who is the "you" in this statement? Does this warning ring true by the last page of the book? How does this prophecy color your read of the intervening events?

2. Throughout the novel, Sloane seems to feel some responsibility to protect Katherine from Ames, whom she views as a threat, while Rosalita, Grace, and Ardie all have their own personal philosophies about the "problem of Ames" and their relative roles in it. What responsibility do women bear to protect other women from dangerous men? How does that answer shape your ultimate view of Katherine’s actions?

3. In Chapter 25, the chorus narrates, ". . . but whispers could only carry so far. Such was the purpose of whispering—to ensure that not everyone heard." "Intersectionality" is a term coined by black, feminist scholar Kimberle Crensha was a framework to identify how interlocking systems of power impact those groups that are marginalized. What does the chorus’s statement suggest about the efficacy of whisper networks and issues surrounding intersectionality?

4. In Chapter 15, Sloane worries over whether Ames "knew better" than to act as he did toward his female employees. In what ways, if any, should Ames’s intent factor into a discussion about the fate of his professional life?

5. What parallels can be drawn between Abigail’s experience at school and the experiences of Sloane, Grace, and Ardie in the workplace? Do you think one experience affects the other?

6. The women of Dallas create the BAD Men List to warn each other about men who exhibit predatory behavior. Was Sloane right to add Ames’s name to the list? Is the BAD Men List ethical? Do you ultimately feel such a list is a good idea or a bad one?

7. In what ways do the women in the novel support each other, and in what ways do they fail one another?

8. Chandler Baker has chosen to tell part of the story through a first-person plural ("we") point of view. What is the effect of this? Beyond issues of sexual harassment, how does the workplace experience differ for women in the novel compared to their male counterparts?

9. At the start of Chapter 20, the chorus observes, ". . . none of us thought that motherhood and work could exist harmoniously. If anything, they were two forces, diametrically opposed. We were the prisoners, strapped to the medieval stretching device, having enjoyed the rare privilege of both loving and having chosen our torturers." Can motherhood and work exist harmoniously?

10. At the end of Chapter 45, Sloane admits to herself that she is a "terrible ambassador" for the cause against Ames. Is this true? Both Sloane and Katherine seem to feel they bear some of the blame for Ames’s treatment of them. Do they?

11. Cosette Sharpe agrees to take the lead in the counter lawsuit against Ardie, Grace, and Sloane. Sloane is angry at this perceived betrayal while Cosette feels justified in her decision. Whose side do you identify more strongly with?

12. Rosalita throws away the airplane wings that Ardie gives to Solomon. Why does she do that? Is there a better way for Ardie to have helped Rosalita and Solomon?Is there any way to overcome socioeconomic inequity, even when you’re trying your best?

13. Does it seem consistent with Ardie’s character that she did not reveal her assault to anyone and stayed working at Truviv? How do you think this affected her relationship with Sloane? Do you think Ardie guessed at Solomon’s parentage before it was revealed toward the end of the novel?

14. At any point in the novel, should—or could—Ardie, Sloane, Grace, or Rosalita have handled what to do about Ames differently? If so, how? To that end, before Ardie’s and Rosalita’s personal histories with Ames are fully revealed, did you believe Ames’s behavior was actionable? Was it sexual harassment?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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