Two parts Too Big to Fail, one part The Devil Wears Prada, Alger’s debut is taut and compelling. The recession-era Manhattan elite are bruised and a touch less confident than in their heyday, but the summer homes, charity balls, and general extravagance persist—and the titular family is still riding high. Alger’s portrayal of the magnetic Darlings is convincing, particularly that of Paul Ross. Married to the eldest Darling daughter, he’s a self-made man forced to take refuge in the employ of his father-in-law’s hedge fund. What unfolds, amid all the character building, is a well-constructed Madoffian financial scandal, with Alger leaning on her knowledge (she is a graduate of NYU Law School and a former analyst for Goldman, Sachs) for verisimilitude that only occasionally overwhelms. Though the plot is bogged down by a secondary cast who come to drive the drama, sophisticated central characterizations make this novel well worth the time; Alger expertly evokes both sympathy and contempt for her characters and writes with a polished ease, telling the story of our time (or a particular glittery, corrupt corner of our time) with a mix of ruthlessness and sensitivity. Agent: McCormick & Williams. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/2011 Release date: 02/16/2012 Genre: Fiction
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