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A review of “My Friend Anna”: the seduction of money

Book cover of Rachel DeLoache Williams memoir, My Friend Anna: the true story of Anna Delvey, the fake heiress who conned me and half of New York City

My Friend Anna has been one of the most unsettling memoirs that I have read recently. It made me think not only about friendships and close personal relationships, but also how money equates power. Anna Delvey, a con artist who went to prison for her crimes, was able to con half of New York’s elite. Then she also used her celebrity as a con artist to get a deal with Netflix to make some sort of documentary/show. What this says about our culture, or our insatiable desire for scandals made me feel so uncomfortable. I mean, I also read the book. So what is that saying about me?

The scandalous memoir is nothing new for my generation. The international success of memoirs like The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort is evidence enough that lighting a garbage can on fire is enough for sales. The story of and relationship between Anna Delvey and Rachel DeLoache Williams is so complex and strange. Reading the memoir made me ask myself, what would I have done in that situation? It isn’t an easy question to answer. I am also aware that hypothetical questions don’t have the same consequences as real-life situations. However, I do have some takeaways from the memoir.

The power we give people who say they have money is ridiculous. Anna does terrible things and treats a lot of people and staff extremely badly, but she is excused for this behaviour because she is ‘rich’. Her ‘spoilt upbringing’ and class privilege allow her to act so badly. Anna performs her richness and people assume she is genuine.

Anna was a con artists who had studied her subject—petulant rich people—with the skill and art of a well-trained method actress. And everyone bought it (pun intended).

I can feel the betrayal LeRoache Williams would have felt when she realised the truth about Anna. I cannot imagine what she went through. The debt alone would be overwhelming enough, let alone everything else that Delvey put her through. Yet, there was a part of me that wondered, Why do we let ‘rich’ people treat us like crap?

The power that money gives people is outrageous. It is unfounded, unwarranted, and ridiculous. Yet, we let people with money buy our silence.

My Friend Anna is a great read, in that it is easy to get through and feels a bit like a reality T.V. drama at times. If you read this memoir, I hope that it makes you think about the power money gives people and whether you choose to let those people have power over you.

Have you ever had a friend betray you? As always, share the reading love.