I received a copy of The Darlings by Christina Alger for review from the kind folks over at The Penguin Group. The cover blew me away and communicated everything I imagined about the text: opulence, New York wealth, and tragedy.
The epilogue takes you on a journey with an unnamed man. He seems to have all you could want (driving an Aston Martin), but is plotting his death. The novel then throws us into New York's high society, where we meet the Darling Family. While this piece is fictional, I couldn't help but imagine the Darlings as an extension of Bernie Madoff's family, and their crime as an outline for the investment scandal that is still rocking New York City.
Alger makes no apologies for her knowledge of the finance world (she graduated with a degree from Harvard in 2002 and NYU Law in 2007). The book does not turn the investment speak into layman's terms, but rather expects readers to keep up. I found myself dog-earring pages to go back to with Wikipedia handy. To be honest, I initially found this frustrating but I have realized, since finishing the book, that not only was this an entertaining read, but I felt as if I stepped away having learned something.
What I found most interesting about The Darlings was the approach. We were taken day by day, and even hour by hour through the reactions of all sides involved (no matter how little) in the ponzi scheme. For me, the most accessible pieces of this book was within the emotion of the gorgeous Lily Darling, a fragile member of the family. I was drawn to the struggle of Paul, who is married to the eldest daughter, Merrill Darling. Additionally, I was fascinated with this inside peek behind the veil of New York's High Society. Inside the Park Avenue apartments and Hamptons homes was infidelity, family strife, and depression.
I'd recommend The Darlings to anyone looking for a great summer read (especially as we continue to fight our way out of the recession.). For those of us living in NYC or outside of the city with an eagerness to look in, it's a great read to provide a bit of escape.