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The Darlings: A Novel by Cristina Alger

The Darlings: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Cristina Alger

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1991858,418 (3.42)1
Title:The Darlings: A Novel
Authors:Cristina Alger
Info:Pamela Dorman Books (2012), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Read, Read in 2012
Tags:December 2012, New York City, Wall Street

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The Darlings by Cristina Alger

  1. 00
    The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Depicting the lives of the rich and privileged, these novels explore the corruption, greed, and scandal underlying the financial scene in New York City. The Bonfire of the Vanities takes place in the 1980s, while The Darlings' setting is contemporary.… (more)

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Set in New York City at the height of the financial crisis, The Darlings is the story of a wealthy American family. After the firm he works for is brought down during the Wall Street meltdown, Paul Ross accepts the position of general counsel at the financial firm headed by his father-in-law, Carter Darling. While other firms are struggling to stay alive, Darling's business has weathered the financial crisis relatively unscathed and Paul is happy to be employed by a stable company. It is not long after he starts his new position, however, that Paul and the Darling's worlds are threatened with collapse. The tragic actions of Carter Darling's closest friend and business associate serves to throw the Darlings into the media and regulatory spotlight. Paul soon learns that the SEC has been investigating the firm's most significant partner fund and finds out the truth about what's really been going on there. Despite this knowledge, Paul is torn over what to do as joining forces with the SEC investigators would mean betraying his wife's family and the company for which he works.

The Darlings is a well-written, fast-paced and engaging novel, one that is guaranteed to evoke a lot of emotion from the reader. At the novel's outset I had quite a bit of sympathy for both Paul Ross and Carter Darling, neither of whom appear to have had anything to do with the actions of their associates yet would seemingly be brought down by them anyway. As the story unfolds, however, my sympathy turned to disappointment with Paul and anger towards Carter. Despite the fact that their investors face losses of hundreds of millions of dollars, doing what's right because it is the proper thing to do never seems to factor into either man's decision-making process. Both men are really only interested in saving themselves and their families. While this is understandable, the fact that so many other families stand to be ruined simply because they placed their trust in the wrong financial firm negates any sympathy I might have otherwise had for Paul Ross and the Darlings. The only characters who are portrayed as wanting to do the right thing are the SEC investigators, and seeing how their efforts are continually stifled by their own management was maddening to read. The elements of the narrative that stir up the most emotion, however, are those that detail the despicable steps some were willing to take to keep the wrongdoing hidden and to discredit those trying to bring it to light. I found this aspect of the storyline to be infuriating. Indeed, it's been a long time since I've read a novel that evoked such strong emotion in me. I'm looking forward to reading more from Cristina Alger.

The Darlings is recommended to fans of contemporary novels, especially those interested in a fictional account of the financial crisis.

Note: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 15, 2016 |
The Darlings sees high flying family the Darlings - who also happen to be the 'darlings' of the financial industry - go from riches to... well, not exactly rags but perhaps a few less luxury holidays and world class restaurants. Paul Ross seems a decent enough guy, who didn't try to game the financial system too much - unless you count turning a blind eye to the practices of others. Still, there's a big difference between seeing and doing and Paul has managed to make a new life for himself working for his wife's father.

When a family suicide throws both the family and the company into turmoil, Paul knows he's not going to get away with see-no-evil, hear-no-evil this time around and has to make some very difficult decisions about family, loyalty and integrity.

I did enjoy The Darlings. Paul certainly seemed the most down-to-earth of the characters, slightly out of his depth in a world of wealth and schmoozing. Many of the remaining characters seemed frustrating vacuous, which I'm sure was deliberate. It certainly meant it made more of an impact when they did feel something.

My biggest issue with The Darlings was the ending. It felt laboured and drawn out. There was a twist, but I had seen it coming. That possibly added to my sense that it was just words filling space for a few of the later pages. Disappointingly, the drama and edginess built up throughout the novel, dribbled away as the hand was slightly overplayed.

That said, I would still recommend this book. Entertaining and well-paced throughout the majority of the book, Alger weaves a good story of high society fallen low and the impact a culture of greed has. Alger is certainly one to watch. ( )
  donnambr | Nov 27, 2014 |
I'm back, for the moment, fresh with impressions of The Darlings by Cristina Alger, a novel that is a rough equivalent of (Gossip Girl Edith Wharton - romantic drama) x Bernie Madoff Bonfire of the Vanities (Damages - murder schemes).

With the elite of the 1% and the financial tailspin of 2008 as subject matter, it would be easy to dismiss this novel as something to avoid, but you really shouldn't. It's a compelling read, driven by the interplay of characters not only from inside the upper echelons of Manhattan "royalty," but also by those lingering on the outside, less mired in glittery facades. Though I was put off by some of the characters in the beginning, many managed to grow on me. None perfect, but none completely villainous either. All human... Full review here. ( )
  zeteticat | Apr 2, 2013 |
Normally, I probably would not have picked this up, despite the lovely cover. When offered a review copy from Penguin, I figured why not, since I can be a bit narrow in my reading tastes these days (YA, YA, YA). Yet again, I am glad I did. The Darlings was a good read, even for one such as myself, who does not follow anything about the economy (more than my own bank account anyway).

The entirety of the story, with the exception of the epilogue, takes place within just one week. I love that Alger set it up this way, because it really drove home how quickly a situation can devolve to a snafu. On Monday, everything was good, and in a matter of days two companies were pretty much destroyed (or likely to be so).

Also, I want to give Alger props for managing to write sympathetic characters. I was definitely out to hate everyone in this book, because I can likely never (realistically) dream of having as much money as these guys would still have if the company bit it. I know life's not fair, but that does not mean I have to like it.

Actually, pretty much every character in here was at least a little bit likable. Certainly, by the end, there were some folks I was not a huge fan of, but I didn't hate anyone entirely (except maybe for Jane, who didn't get much screen time). I couldn't hate Carter because of how much he cared for his family, and because he apparently resembles Cary Grant. My favorite characters were definitely Paul and Merrill, who seem least messed up by the world they're living in. I would also really like to find out what happened to Marina.

The Darlings is a well-written story set in the economic landscape of post-9/11 New York City. Expect love, betrayal, and plot twists. Enjoy!
( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
This is the story of financial royalty, of insanely wealthy families made up entirely of lawyers, investors, bankers, and their quasi-philanthropic spouses. When a family friend of the Darlings commits suicide, all sorts of dirty laundry is unearthed, turning everyone's world on its head. This was a fascinating introduction to a world completely foreign to me. I found Merrill and Paul quite sympathetic, and while the ending fell flat, the rest of it was a good time. My only real complaint was how much difficulty I had keeping track of all the characters. I could have used an extra sentence or two at the beginning of each chapter to remind me how this person relates to the other people. But it was a decent piece of fiction all the same. ( )
  melydia | Jan 11, 2013 |
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Book description
Paul Ross accepts a job working on the legal team for his billionaire father-in-law's hedge fund and must determine where his loyalties lie when a scandal and a regulatory investigation threaten the family business.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670023272, Hardcover)

A sophisticated page-turner about a wealthy New York family embroiled in a financial scandal with cataclysmic consequences.

Now that he's married to Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling, attorney Paul Ross has grown accustomed to New York society and all of its luxuries: a Park Avenue apartment, weekends in the Hamptons, bespoke suits. When Paul loses his job, Carter offers him the chance to head the legal team at his hedge fund. Thrilled with his good fortune in the midst of the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression, Paul accepts the position.

But Paul's luck is about to shift: a tragic event catapults the Darling family into the media spotlight, a regulatory investigation, and a red-hot scandal with enormous implications for everyone involved. Suddenly, Paul must decide where his loyalties lie-will he save himself while betraying his wife and in-laws or protect the family business at all costs?

Cristina Alger's glittering debut novel interweaves the narratives of the Darling family, two eager SEC attorneys, and a team of journalists all racing to uncover-or cover up-the truth. With echoes of a fictional Too Big to Fail and the novels of Dominick Dunne, The Darlings offers an irresistible glimpse into the highest echelons of New York society-a world seldom seen by outsiders-and a fast-paced thriller of epic proportions.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:34 -0400)

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Paul Ross accepts a job working on the legal team for his billionaire father-in-law's hedge fund and must determine where his loyalties lie when a scandal and a regulatory investigation threaten the family business.

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