The Darling: A Novel

The Darling: A Novel

by Russell Banks


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Set in Liberia and the United States from 1975 through 1991, The Darling is the story of Hannah Musgrave, a political radical and member of the Weather Underground.

Hannah flees America for West Africa, where she and her Liberian husband become friends of the notorious warlord and ex-president, Charles Taylor. Hannah's encounter with Taylor ultimately triggers a series of events whose momentum catches Hannah's family in its grip and forces her to make a heartrending choice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060957353
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/11/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 1,189,997
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.91(d)

About the Author

Russell Banks, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, is one of America’s most prestigious fiction writers, a past president of the International Parliament of Writers, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Common Wealth Award for Literature. He lives in upstate New York and Miami, Florida.

Date of Birth:

March 28, 1940

Place of Birth:

Newton, Massachusetts

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Darling 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Russell Bank's writing draws you in and keeps you there from the beginning. This story is fascinating and gives the reader a glimpse into a generation of activists and the underground as well as a look at the Liberian struggles, all set around a compelling and complex person in the form of 'Hannah'. Great characters and great story.
SarahCHonenberger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Banks tried to write and think like a woman, didn't quite get it, but story is fascinating peek at what happened in Liberia under Charles Taylor
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Somehow, I was expecting a bit more from this book. The story focuses on a woman named Hannah Musgrave, aka Dawn Carrington, aka Hannah Sundiata. During her college years, she works for civil rights in the south and for other causes, and then, just before graduating from Harvard Medical School, becomes a radical activist, and works sort of on the sidelines for the Weather Underground. She finds herself on the FBI's most wanted list, and after her friend puts her in a tough spot, she takes off for Ghana. But after a disturbing revelation, Hannah moves onto Liberia and finds herself eventually married to a minister in the current government, and much later, finds herself in the thick of civil war. Hannah's character comes off as being totally unbelievable -- she goes from radical wanted fugitive to living this sort of bourgeois lifestyle that was seemingly everything she was against before leaving the US. I just couldn't buy it. It even seems like Hannah couldn't figure it out either. I really didn't find Hannah a very well-drawn character...more like a shadow of what she could have been according to her own ideology.Banks is a fine author, and the basic story here is good, but some of the situations in which Hannah finds herself, and more importantly, her reactions to them, just don't come off as realistic. Also, since the story begins with Hannah returning to Liberia, I assumed that there'd be more to that particular storyline than just a few pages. I would recommend it, because I think it's a good glimpse into the Liberian political situation and a brief look at what happens to the US aid money that finds itself going abroad. If you're interested in either of those topics, you might enjoy it. Otherwise, it has sort of a falsity that might leave you cold.
ruthseeley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Russell Banks is full of surprises. Great to see him moving beyond New England in this one and really stretching himself as a writer. No more third-generation-loser male protagonists (although he captures their lives of not-so-quiet desperation with exquisitely painful detail, they do tend to be depressing). This is one of my favourite Banks' novels.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's a political thriller, a sweeping epic spanning the decades of one woman's life, and a social commentary on Africa, racism and greed. It's all of these things. Dawn Carrington is Hannah Musgrave who is also "Scout." Dawn/Hannah/Scout is a woman with a past as complicated as her many names. Brought up by affluent, almost snobby parents as Hannah she is drawn to the underworld of political terrorism as Dawn. On the run after being indicted for a bombing gone bad, Dawn flees to Liberia and, by marrying a government official, becomes Missus Sundiata, her fourth recreation. Told from future to past and back again Dawn/Hannah takes you on her unapologetic journey through deceit, corruption, power and humanity.Part of the reason why I liked The Darling so well is because it was written by a man. Russell Banks is able to capture the voice of a woman as a wife, mother, and an individual fiercely protective of her independence and individuality. Even if she doesn't know who she really is. The first person voice is reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver's Taylor Greer or Margaret Atwood's Handmaid.
zenhikers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first novel I have read by Banks, so others may be better. My issue is that I just did not believe the author understood the character he created. How can an principled women with ideals so strong she leaves home and sacrifices her whole identity, morph herslf so easily and conveniently as Hannah does in this novel? I just didn¿t buy it and felt somewhere the story went wrong. I loved reading about the complexities of Africa, but I truly hated this character for being written in such an un-trusworthy voice. I couldn¿t ever get over how she takes the job working in an animal experimentation lab and then turns into someone trying to save the same animals. How could she somewhat randomly meet and marry a government official (Woodrow) after being so independent, so anti-government, and so clearly unmotivated by feelings or intellect? As, I wrote before¿I just was never convinced by the author and I didn¿t ¿get it¿.
mbergman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As in his previous novel about John Brown, Cloudsplitter, Banks combines personal intimacy with political insight in a gripping drama that gets preachy only briefly a couple of times. Immediately in the wake of the 9/11 attacks (barely mentioned but prominent as a backdrop), a woman in her 50s narrates her story from the time she goes underground as a member of a Weatherman cell until she winds up in Liberia, marries a minor government official, has 3 sons, is exiled to the U.S. for a few years, then returns to Liberia again until she is forced out by Charles Taylor's rise to power, in which she is complicit. While in Liberia, she cares for chimpanzees, which provides many occasions for her reflections on her engagement with her family, her world, & her past. Set largely in Liberia, it says a lot indirectly about American life & politics in the past 40 years.
piefuchs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Banks veers away from his usual topic of working class New England men and writes tells the story of a fictionalized bit player in a Weather Underground like organization who accepts, and then self imposes, exile in Liberia and falls in love with and marries a Liberian politician/rebel. The strength in this book lies in the development of the main character as a fearful rebel from a wealthy family and private school who clings to and defines herself by her youthful rebellion, even though it was by Weatherman standards minor, and in the present day, irrelevant. Her attempts to reject her wealthy northeast past and fit into Liberian society are a predictable failure. Somehow the sense of difference she derives from her radicalism are more important to her than anything else.The plot, however, tends to touch on the unbelievable and fails to draw you in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
celiacoplestone More than 1 year ago
A wonderful, complex, frightening, unforgettable book. Surely not for everyone, nor "just for fun" (though it Is compelling-compelling...) But, everyone Ought to read this book, and get whatever they may from it--- it is so rich. Again, as usual, for Banks. However, this is darker--- even than the Sweet Hereafter, in that it is very... viscerally disturbing; that is, by comparison The Sweet Hereafter is devastating, but comprehensible to Western/US minds. There is something at once foreign and so-close-to-home about the Darling--- it is terrifying, and, I feel, truly art.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am going to Liberia to work shortly. Even though the book is fiction, I found the historical events that are incorporated in this book to be very illuminating. I enjoyed reading this book.