Read Remark Book Review - Ray and Joan by Lisa Napoli

Book Review: Ray and Joan by Lisa Napoli

Ray and Joan. The ultimate rich couple.

I became fascinated by their story after watching The Founder, the story of Ray Kroc and the growth of the McDonalds fast food franchise. His rise was not one of ethics and consideration. Ray swindled his way to the top, including taking the business away from the McDonalds brothers themselves. 

Would the restaurant have been so ridiculously successful without the machinations of Ray Kroc? Definitely not. But it brings up the question: is an ill-won victory truly a victory?  

But I digress. Ray and Joan. That’s the point of this post. 

I watched the movie and became interested in the man. By the time he found success with McDonalds, he was middle-aged.Around the same time, he and his wife of ALMOST 40 YEARS divorced. Unsurprisingly, he left her with none of the McDonalds money in the settlement.

In the middle of his next marriage, he and Joan left their respective spouses and got married. This couple was something. Allegations of abuse, a called-off divorce, shouting match over a baseball player’s salary…

Volatile. Through the reading of Ray and Joan, I got the impression that Joan didn’t like Ray very much. That’s my own take. I could be wrong. 

But it seems that Joan really came to life after Ray’s death.

He made the big bucks and she spent them. After Ray died, Joan spent the rest of her life giving away the fortune to charitable causes. 

She earned the nickname “Saint Joan of Arches.” Perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch. Joan was no saint. But her charitable giving added value to several organizations. Was she doing penance for Ray’s misdeeds? 

It’s an interesting read. And I still feel like Joan is an enigma. We can follow the finances to get an idea of their lives and their relationship. But I’m positive that, in the privacy of their unobserved lives, there was a whole other story. 


Ray and Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away
Lisa Napoli
Published November 2016
Dutton