The Darlings: A Novel

The Darlings: A Novel

3.9 39
by Cristina Alger
     
 

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A Bonfire of the Vanities for our times, by an author who "knows her way around 21st-century wealth and power" (The Wall Street Journal)

Since he married Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling, attorney Paul Ross has grown accustomed to all the luxuries of Park Avenue. But a tragic event is about to

Overview

A Bonfire of the Vanities for our times, by an author who "knows her way around 21st-century wealth and power" (The Wall Street Journal)

Since he married Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling, attorney Paul Ross has grown accustomed to all the luxuries of Park Avenue. But a tragic event is about to catapult the Darling family into the middle of a massive financial investigation and a red-hot scandal. Suddenly, Paul must decide where his loyalties really lie.

Debut novelist Cristina Alger is a former analyst at Goldman Sachs, an attorney, and the daughter of a Wall Street financier. Drawing on her unique insider's perspective, Alger gives us an irresistible glimpse into the highest echelons of New York society—and a fast-paced thriller of epic proportions that powerfully echoes Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children and reads like a fictional Too Big to Fail.

Editorial Reviews

USA Today
Alger has written one of the first novels about the 2008 financial crisis, saying she wanted to get into the ‘hearts and minds' of the people who had a front-row seat on the world-changing crisis. She succeeds. What happens to the Darling family in the course of a weekend is what carries this tale along, but it's Alger's description of quintessential New Yorkers, and how they survive, that adds the extra layer. . . . Alger has what it takes, in the best sense of the phrase.
The Wall Street Journal
Alger, who has worked at Goldman Sachs as well as at a white-shoe law firm, knows her way around 21st-century wealth and power, and she tells a suspenseful, twisty story.
From the Publisher
“Alger’s novel is a realist fiction that marks the revival of the finance novel today. . . . Never before have stories seemed more important. It’s one of the virtues of Alger’s novel that it brings this point home to us—from finance, into fiction. And (hopefully) back.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“Alger, who has worked at Goldman Sachs as well as at a white-shoe law firm, knows her way around 21st-century wealth and power, and she tells a suspenseful, twisty story.”
Wall Street Journal

“What happens to the Darling family in the course of a weekend is what carries this tale along, but it’s Alger’s description of quintessential New Yorkers, and how they survive, that adds the extra layer. . . . Alger has what it takes, in the best sense of the phrase.”
USA Today

“Forget Gossip Girl: If you really want a peek into the scandalous lives of New York City's elite upper class, Alger's debut novel—set during the financial downturn of 2008—gets you pretty close. . . . The Darlings moves so fast that it feels more like a thriller than a social drama.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Penned by a former banker, this is a dishy yet thoughtful portrait of greed gone too far . . . A page-turner.”
Good Housekeeping

“Two parts Too Big to Fail, one part The Devil Wears Prada, Alger’s debut is taut and compelling.”
Publishers Weekly

“Probably the most compulsively readable fiction to come out of the Wall Street financial scandal so far. . . . Alger knows the ins and outs of both Wall Street and an upscale NYC lifestyle, nailing all the details . . . Delicious reading.”
Booklist

“…A financial thriller with a tone that fits somewhere between the novels of Dominick Dunne . . . and Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities.”
Library Journal

“Cristina Alger is so good, you just know she’s an inside trader—as intimately familiar with the inner workings of Wall Street investment banks as she is with haute Manhattan social life.  She’s also a gifted storyteller.  The Darlings is an utterly compelling novel, as knowing about family as it is about money and social status, and may be the best literary product of the financial crisis to date.”
Jay McInerney, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Life

“For those who have only gazed up at the palatial residences of Manhattan, this is a glimpse from the penthouse down.”
Tom Rachman, New York Times bestselling author of The Imperfectionists

“Cristina Alger’s debut novel offers a fresh and modern glimpse into New York’s high society.  I was hooked from page one.”
Lauren Weisberger, New York Times bestselling author of Last Night at the Chateau Marmont

“A rare, glittering glimpse into Manhattan’s banks, bedrooms, and private clubs, a material and psychological world rendered with extraordinary detail.  A smart, gripping tale . . . complex and mesmerizing.”
Sarah Houghteling, author of Pictures at an Exhibition

“Cristina Alger has written a racing, vivid, multi-vocal chronicle of the new gilded age, with equal shades of Jay McInerney and Bernie Madoff.  Start reading it and in three hundred pages or so you'll feel like a consummate New York insider, too.”
Charles Finch, author of A Burial at Sea

Publishers Weekly
Two parts Too Big to Fail, one part The Devil Wears Prada, Alger’s debut is taut and compelling. The recession-era Manhattan elite are bruised and a touch less confident than in their heyday, but the summer homes, charity balls, and general extravagance persist—and the titular family is still riding high. Alger’s portrayal of the magnetic Darlings is convincing, particularly that of Paul Ross. Married to the eldest Darling daughter, he’s a self-made man forced to take refuge in the employ of his father-in-law’s hedge fund. What unfolds, amid all the character building, is a well-constructed Madoffian financial scandal, with Alger leaning on her knowledge (she is a graduate of NYU Law School and a former analyst for Goldman, Sachs) for verisimilitude that only occasionally overwhelms. Though the plot is bogged down by a secondary cast who come to drive the drama, sophisticated central characterizations make this novel well worth the time; Alger expertly evokes both sympathy and contempt for her characters and writes with a polished ease, telling the story of our time (or a particular glittery, corrupt corner of our time) with a mix of ruthlessness and sensitivity. Agent: McCormick & Williams. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Alger's debut tracks a single week in the fortunes, or, rather, misfortunes, of the Darlings, a pedigreed Manhattan family whose lavish lifestyle depends on the positive performance of Delphic, their financial investment firm. All goes awry when Morty Reis, a family friend and Delphic's most successful fund manager, tosses himself off the Tappan Zee Bridge. Unfortunately for son-in-law Paul Ross, this terrible event happens around the time of his signing on as the firm's legal counsel and the receipt of pointed phone calls from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He begins to suspect that Morty had engaged in fraudulent schemes that will bring down the family. Will Paul be pulled into the moral quagmire of a family cover-up, extricate himself by cooperating with the SEC and thereby lose his lovely wife, or be hung out to dry by the Darlings as the scapegoat? Throughout the novel, Alger introduces us to flawed but sympathetically drawn characters and depicts socialite parties, luscious dinners, exquisite clothes, and holidays in the Hamptons. VERDICT Alger, a former Goldman Sachs analyst and attorney, has written a financial thriller with a tone that fits somewhere between the novels of Dominick Dunne (though not as flippant) and Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities (though not as serious). [See Prepub Alert, 8/26/11.]—Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Lib., Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
First-time novelist Alger brings previous careers in investment and law to bear in her financial thriller about a prominent Manhattan family of financiers brought down by scandal months after the stock-market crash. Carter Darling and his Brazilian wife Ines, a stereotypically shallow Upper East Side matron, are doyens of Manhattan society with two Spence educated daughters, pretty Lily and smart Merrill. Carter employs both his sons-in-law, preppy dullard Adrian and self-made lawyer Paul--Merrill's husband and the novel's more or less central character--at his hedge fund Delphic. The Darlings, including daughters and sons-in-law, live inside a tightly controlled bubble in which family is supposedly everything until Delphic's dealings come under the scrutiny of the New York office of the SEC. But the Darlings are not the Madoffs. They are aristocratic and "waspy" (an adjective Alger uses a lot). The Madoff stand-in is Morty Reis, a nouveau riche Jew who apparently commits suicide just before the SEC exposes that his management firm, a big part of Delphic's portfolio, has been running a massive ponzi scheme. Did anyone at Delphic know? Is someone going to have to take the fall? Is there other, more personal misconduct in danger of being exposed? Where do the fault lines of loyalty lie within this family? And how much does the family's concierge/lawyer, another nouveau riche Jew, know? While Alger builds suspense by tracking the family's disintegration in short scenes day by day by exact hour, from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving until the Monday after, she dissipates tension with a surfeit of financial chatter; the temperature never rises above tepid, even during sex scenes, and neither does the satiric heat. Merrill and Paul are portrayed as the innocent victim-heroes throughout, but it is hard to work up much sympathy--Paul has dropped his North Carolina family for no understandable reason except social climbing, and Merrill is a "waspy" snob and a possessive wife. A lukewarm financial thriller.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143122753
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/24/2012
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
729,570
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Alger’s novel is a realist fiction that marks the revival of the finance novel today. . . . Never before have stories seemed more important. It’s one of the virtues of Alger’s novel that it brings this point home to us—from finance, into fiction. And (hopefully) back.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“Alger, who has worked at Goldman Sachs as well as at a white-shoe law firm, knows her way around 21st-century wealth and power, and she tells a suspenseful, twisty story.”
Wall Street Journal

“What happens to the Darling family in the course of a weekend is what carries this tale along, but it’s Alger’s description of quintessential New Yorkers, and how they survive, that adds the extra layer. . . . Alger has what it takes, in the best sense of the phrase.”
USA Today

“Forget Gossip Girl: If you really want a peek into the scandalous lives of New York City's elite upper class, Alger's debut novel—set during the financial downturn of 2008—gets you pretty close. . . . The Darlings moves so fast that it feels more like a thriller than a social drama.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Penned by a former banker, this is a dishy yet thoughtful portrait of greed gone too far . . . A page-turner.”
Good Housekeeping

“Two parts Too Big to Fail, one part The Devil Wears Prada, Alger’s debut is taut and compelling.”
Publishers Weekly

“Probably the most compulsively readable fiction to come out of the Wall Street financial scandal so far. . . . Alger knows the ins and outs of both Wall Street and an upscale NYC lifestyle, nailing all the details . . . Delicious reading.”
Booklist

“…A financial thriller with a tone that fits somewhere between the novels of Dominick Dunne . . . and Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities.”
Library Journal

“Cristina Alger is so good, you just know she’s an inside trader—as intimately familiar with the inner workings of Wall Street investment banks as she is with haute Manhattan social life.  She’s also a gifted storyteller.  The Darlings is an utterly compelling novel, as knowing about family as it is about money and social status, and may be the best literary product of the financial crisis to date.”
Jay McInerney, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Life

“For those who have only gazed up at the palatial residences of Manhattan, this is a glimpse from the penthouse down.”
Tom Rachman, New York Times bestselling author of The Imperfectionists

“Cristina Alger’s debut novel offers a fresh and modern glimpse into New York’s high society.  I was hooked from page one.”
Lauren Weisberger, New York Times bestselling author of Last Night at the Chateau Marmont

“A rare, glittering glimpse into Manhattan’s banks, bedrooms, and private clubs, a material and psychological world rendered with extraordinary detail.  A smart, gripping tale . . . complex and mesmerizing.”
Sarah Houghteling, author of Pictures at an Exhibition

“Cristina Alger has written a racing, vivid, multi-vocal chronicle of the new gilded age, with equal shades of Jay McInerney and Bernie Madoff.  Start reading it and in three hundred pages or so you'll feel like a consummate New York insider, too.”
Charles Finch, author of A Burial at Sea

Meet the Author

Cristina Alger graduated from Harvard College and from New York University Law School. She has worked as an analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co., and as an attorney at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr. She lives in New York City, where she was born.  Alger is at work on her second novel, coming soon from Pamela Dorman Books/Viking.

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The Darlings 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
ckgaughan More than 1 year ago
The Darlings is an incredible book - my favorite read in years!! I cannot recommend it enough. The characters were rich and complex. The narrative was wonderful; once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a work of non-fiction, not fiction. It's basically identical to the story of Bernie Madoff, down to his East 64th Street address in Manhattan and Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton. His son-in-law Paul is basically the story of his sons, Mark and Andrew. Read about half and I'm done. It's yet another book about a Ponzi scheme. I can even figure out the referrals to real life characters -- including the shady accountant in Westchester, the law firm which resembles Irving Picard's firm and those at the SEC. Nothing fiction about this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Darlings held my attention through the first half, primarily because the descriptions and back stories on the characters were very good. But the second half went downhill quickly. I was just plowing through to get it over with. And the end of the story was incredibly anticlimatic and disappointing.
Pamela_G_S More than 1 year ago
The Darlings is a very timely story about the rich and powerful at the height of a financial crisis. The upper crust have their problems too as they are impacted with loss, scandal and politics. It’s a different slant on the type of suffering of the super wealthy versus the suffering of the “little guy”. This is a terrifying story of affluence gone wrong and the downward spiral that it causes to all attached parties. This isn’t for the faint of heart.
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Ilovemister More than 1 year ago
This was a really good book. Highly Recommended.
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Jaysoar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
Paul Ross is married to Merrill Darling, whose daddy just happens to be Carter Darling a billionaire financier. When Paul loses his job his wife persuades him to take a position in her dad's company as the head of the legal team at Carter's hedge fund.  When an unexpected suicide of a dear friend of the Darlings puts a spot light on the hedge fund and a regulatory investigation begins. An old friend from the SEC meets with Paul with a chance to turn on the Darlings or go down with the ship.  The Darlings is an energized novel filled with characters, New York high society, and reminiscent of the 2008 financial crisis.  For me, this wasn't a book I could just sit down with and read right through. First there are so many characters to get straight and for awhile you don't see how one fits to the others. Once the story gets moving you really get a strong sense of who Paul is. I personally really liked him. And you felt for him. The more you read the more you will want to read! I really wasn't sure what was going to happen and like I said you really aren't sure who some of these people are and how they are going to play into the story line. But then they do...the big AHA moments start to happen.  I really thought The Darlings gave a really unique look at the Wall Street types we are always hearing about in the news. I guess you kind of expect them to have these amazing lives, but for me their lives seemed to be lacking. But don't confuse that with the book! I very much recommend The Darlings by Cristina Alger and it didn't lack anything!
JulieWallace More than 1 year ago
This book is like a puzzle, different characters are introduced and you don’t know how all the pieces come together, but they do come together and very compellingly. The time stamps before the chapters keep the excitement going. You experience with the Darling family what should’ve been a festive Thanksgiving weekend and instead you live the nightmare of how quickly your whole world can turn upside down. You meet many different characters and you have sympathy for them and how they got to this point.  It really gives you the inside view of the rich and famous of the financial world.  It makes sense that Bravo and Fox Television are developing the novel into a TV series; it will be very intriguing and I’m eager to see it come to life. The author was very knowledgeable in the financial world. All the characters were very real and when they were introduced you got a real feel of who they are and what makes them tick.  I’m looking forward to  reading this continued series, it's great writing.  
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Great read!  
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bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
I read this novel expecting it to be a take on the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. To a certain extent it was, being about a family whose work and family lives were entangled in a financial scandal. Carter Darling employed both of his sons-in-laws, one of whom was just along for the ride and one, Paul, who just came aboard after losing his job as an attorney at the beginning of the recession. Not many of the wealthy characters are very likable in this book, except for Paul and Merrill. Although Carter came from a working-class background, he was now one of the 1%ers. He spoiled his wife and daughters, and lived a lifestyle to which most people cannot relate. While reading this book, I thought that there were too many tangential characters. They didn't seem to be moving the story along, I didn't know why they were there. By the end of the story, Alger had put all of the pieces of the puzzle together so cleverly I had to admire her skill. Every character leads to something important. I also enjoyed her descriptions of characters, like this one: "Theresa Frankel was a middle-aged woman who looked as though she resided permanently at the intersection of boredom and disinterest." One sentence and you knew immediately who Teresa was. The Darlings is a well-crafted story, and even if you don't like most of the characters, you'll want to see where this story is going. And Alger throws in a twist at the end that is a game-changer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
anonymous67 More than 1 year ago
I am not sure how I felt about this book. It marginally kept my interest, but I found the characters shallow, unlikable, and not clearly delineated or developed. At times I had to back-check through the chapters to remind myself of various character relationships. At times, it seemed overly wordy and certain plot lines seemed unnecessary and did nothing to advance the plot line. . Towards the end of the book, I found it easier to quickly scan whole paragraphs, rather than plow through irrelevant details and descriptions. I had no curiosity about how the book concluded ,but for some reason persevered to the end. I do think the author has talent , but can not whole-heartedly recommend this book.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
The Darlings is a very interesting read, and a look into the high society of New York. We learn about hedge funds and derivatives and the latest fashions. The author's work experience gives her the background into the legal and investment issues, I don't know about her position in society! One might think Madoff in reading this novel, but it would be a short-sighted thought, as the story is really on its won without Madoff.
KBE74 More than 1 year ago
The Darlings by Christina Alger is about a family, a husband and wife and their two daughters and their husbands. The father and his two sons-in-law work for the Delphic Hedge Fund, a fund of funds which the father owns. The novel is set in the post September, 2008 world of New York financial institutions with flashbacks to the era pre-Lehman collapse. Even after the 2008 collapse of the markets, the Darlings live a very affluent, even opulent, life style. By page sixty-two, a Bernie Madoff type character with whom Delphic has invested jumps off the Tappan Zee Bridge, and the Darlings’ world falls into chaos. The rest of the novel concerns the effects the financial collapse of Delphic has on each of the family members.