Author: Cristina Alger
Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking (Penguin)
Pub. Date: February 16, 2012
Don't you just love the cover for this? This is what initially peaked my interest, especially since it's clearly New York City! And then I read that it was about a wealthy New York family and a financial scandal and I was hooked. Last year I was fascinated when I read Tangled Webs, a non-fiction book about perjury which included the story about the Madoff ponzi scheme scandal. The Darlings definitely paralleled this scandal in many ways.
The Darlings is centered around the Darling family comprised of dad Carter, mom Ines, and their daughters Lily and Merrill. Adrian and Paul, married to Lily and Merrill, respectively, both work for Carter at his financial company, Delphic. For Paul, especially, the job as general counsel for Delphic is sort of a godsend, as his last place of business, Howary, was closed down during the financial crisis of 2008 after being investigated by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). But then admidst the financial difficulties, when a close family friend and CEO of one of Delphic's fund management companies (ack, I do NOT know these terms accurately even after reading this) commits suicide, things start to quickly unravel and a financial scandal of epic proportions is revealed. Paul figures things out and has to decide if whether to risk his marriage by separating himself from the Darlings to save himself or to stick with the family he's grown so close to, potentially going down with them.
This story was actually a lot less about just Paul than I expected and more about all the various people related to the scandal. The chapters are narrated from the viewpoints of various people including Paul, Lily, Merrill, Carter, Ines, Carter's lawyer, Sol, Sol's secretary, Yvonne, journalist and friend of the family, Duncan, and his assistant, Marina. I really liked that it was narrated this way for a couple reasons. First, for me it provided the symbolism of this overarching scandal falling upon all these people. I liked this following description about how fragile everything had become.
"'What are you going to do?' Paul asked. He spoke as quietly as he could, as if they were inside a china teacup. The world felt so fragile that the very reverberations of his voice might crack it." 'What are we going to do?'" (p.247)While they weren't all affected financially (for instance, the assistants didn't have, I don't think, money invested with Delphic) they all had a part in perpetuating and/or revealing the scandal while others were affected on a more personal level. Each chapter was also titled with the day and time (most of the book taking place over Thanksgiving week), and this maintained a feel of immediacy in the story. There was also a subtle tension that kept me hooked to the story, not wanting to be away from it for long.
But second, this book also briefly told the stories of each of these individuals and how they came to be New Yorkers and what that meant for them. I thought this was a great way to incorporate the essence of New York City into a story about high society New York's financial scandal. And the thoughts about the city were told from both angles. For instance:
"One thing he loved about New York was the sharpness of the seasons. There was something electric about winter coming to the city. It was gritty and cold but also wondrously beautiful. The dark army of trees on Park Avenue came alive with lights at night; the store displays on Fifth Avenue were gaudy and gorgeous, as were the throngs of holiday shoppers that clogged the sidewalks. Snow in New York turned quickly into a blackened slush along the curbs, but for the first brief moment, it would dust the sidewalks like confectioners' sugar and transform the city's skyline into a perfect, tiered wedding cake." (p. 32)Overall, I thought The Darlings was the perfect amalgamation of white collar suspense and homage to life in New York City. (Clearly, this will be added to my New York Shelf)!
I'm super excited to be able to offer a giveaway from the publisher for a copy of The Darlings! To enter just fill out the form below! The winner will be chosen and announced on Saturday, February 25, 2012.