2024 Reading Challenge

2024 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 1 book toward her goal of 285 books.

2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 265 books.

Book Review: The Darlings

Happy Book Review Tuesday everyone!  We’ve got a bit of contemporary fiction today, for your review-reading pleasure.  My review copy of The Darlings was provided courtesy of LuxuryReading.com, which also hosted the original (shorter) post of this book review on April 17, 2012 (available here).


The Darlings

Everybody seems to like learning about the “secret” lives of the rich and powerful.  At least, it seems that way to me.  Memoirs, tell-all biographies, bio-pics, television shows (reality and sit-com and drama) abound.  The Darlings is Cristina Alger’s version.

I am as susceptible to this genre as anybody else.  I find it ridiculous fun to read the descriptions of lavish settings, parties, and accoutrements.  I don’t know why.  I’ve had a better life than many, with “high-life” times of my own (none quite as high as most of those described in these kinds of books/movies, but still) – shopping in exclusive designer stores on Chicago’s Miracle Mile and in DC and Philadelphia, first-class vacations/travel, dining/cocktailing in exclusive restaurants in cities across the U.S. and in places like Switzerland, Belgium, and London.  I thoroughly enjoyed all of those experiences, but they taught me that wealthy/high-end lifestyles don’t make people any happier, they just give them more/different problems – albeit some of which are “problems” that most of us would trade our more mundane ones, like bill-paying and future-planning, for, of course.  😉

Besides the voyeuristic thrill of reading about fancy things, I will also admit to a tish of schadenfreude-ish glee when their uppance finally comes.  It inevitably does, of course, because (if the genre is to be believed) the lifestyles of the rich and famous in these books/movies/shows always seem to hinge on some sort of wrong-doing.  And who doesn’t love reading about uppance-coming?  We all love knowing other people’s weaknesses and downfalls.  It humanizes them and makes us feel better about our own foibles.

For the Darling family, the Achilles heel is the world of high finance.  The novel tells the tale of Paul Ross, a brilliant but mostly otherwise regular fellow who married into the Darlings.  He’s a lawyer, married to the “nice” daughter, and a generally good guy (as the brilliant-but-mostly-otherwise-regular fellows in these stories always are).  So of course, he finds himself in a bit of a pickle – save himself or go with the family – when scandal and Big Drama inevitably strikes.

Sound familiar so far?  I thought so too.  These stories do tend to be relatively formulaic, so I rather expected it to feel familiar.  But still.  Even with that expectation firmly in place, I had to keep checking the publication date (February 2012) and the “Advance Uncorrected Proofs” mark on my copy, because it felt like I’d seen this book before.  Even the name of the family was familiar, having been the name of the society folk who main-charactered the recent TV show “Dirty Sexy Money”.  I actually had to IMDB the show to remind myself of the family-composition on that show, it felt so familiar.*

The book is engaging and easy to read, with a panoply of characters full of eccentricities and egos.  It falls into a nice routine, following the path well-trodden by other books of its genre.  Don’t think that means that it wasn’t enjoyable.  It was, just not exactly in what I would call a “fast-paced thriller of epic proportions” sort of way.  Reviews and blurbs have billed this as one of the first books to talk about the latest Wall Street crisis.  It may be that, and the specific financial elements of the crisis may be different – I’m not enough of a Wall Street follower to really know – but the fundamental story (greed leads to downfall) is as old as the hills, and in that regard the book felt a little overly-familiar for me.



* For those who care, the child-to-parent ratio was different, and the show’s plot was a bit more contrived – in a fun way – so don’t think the two are related.  The name must have been a coincidence.  Wild though, eh?  The show was pretty fun, if you’re into this stuff, and is worth checking out for Donald Sutherland’s performance as the patriarch, if nothing else.  He’s so iconic – I love him.  He’s who I kept picturing as Carter Darling, incidentally.


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>