At a time when many experts from all over the world fear another subprime turmoil, OOK magazine presents you The Darlings, the first book written by the American author Cristina Alger. It is a fascinating novel that plunges us into the life of one of the richest families of Manhattan at a moment when its members are forced to face the 2008 economic crisis.
The Darlings are the epitome of the wealthy and ideal American family. Carter, the father, is the CEO of Delphic, a successful financial brokerage firm that he created himself. Ines, the mother, is a housewife who spends her time decorating her houses and organizing dinners and parties. Merrill and Lily, the daughters, are both married to respectable men who work in the family business. But, this perfect happiness falls apart when Morty Reis, one of Carter’s closest collaborators, disappears. Scandal threatens to break out and undermine the family’s reputation at the height of the crisis when the media and the people tended to consider that the whole financial community was immoral.
In her first novel, The Darlings, published in 2012, Cristina Alger – who is a former financial analyst at Goldman Sachs – describes the consequences of the economic crisis on the way Wall Street works by telling us the story of a typical high society family from the East Coast of the United States.
A thrilling financial detective novel
With her simple and straightforward style, the author offers us a fast-paced thriller and manages to maintain the suspense from beginning to end by multiplying the unexpected plot-twists. Yet, the book is not centered on a police inquiry. In fact, the readers are, above all, told about the fraudulent manoeuvres that the senior managers of Delphic set up in order to try and avoid a major financial scandal that reminds us of Bernard Madoff’s story.
Cristina Alger uses her knowledge of the financial system to depict very precisely and accurately the means the big names of Wall Street and their lawyers have at their disposal to hide their wrongdoings. She particularly insists on how quickly things are done and undone in New York. Actually, the whole story takes place within only five days during the extended Thanksgiving weekend. The chapters are very short and alternatively centered on different protagonists who work simultaneously and whose actions are described hour by hour so that the readers constantly have the feeling that the situation can turn totally upside down at any time.
A family portrait
Besides the financial manipulations, this novel – that is somehow halfway between Gossip Girl and The Wolf of Wall Street – depicts above all the peculiar social dynamics that characterize the richest and most powerful American dynasties. The characters live and work together but never intermingle with less wealthy classes of the population. So, they seem to form a community of their own. Nevertheless, when scandal threatens to strike them, they are face with a dilemma: show solidarity in the name of friendship or family ties or betray the ones they love in order to protect themselves.
Cristina Alger’s first book is thus a novel that is completely in the spirit of our time and it is definitely worth reading!
The Darlings by Cristina Alger, published in the United States of America in 2012 by Penguin Books (352 pages, $16), and in France in 2013 by Alibin Michel (464 pages, €22).