“The Darlings” by Cristina Alger opens with a solitary driver of an expensive car on a deserted country road. What happens there was not exactly “plan a” but it was the only plan, and it set in motion events that sent shock waves around the world. Alger drops readers into the middle of New York City’s financial crises of the 1980s and examines how one family handles the chaos in a fateful November. Alger gives readers a feel for the city,
“New York, she realized, was a sea filled with ships, slipping silently by one another on their way in and out of port.”
The events are described from various points of view. Each character looks at the situation through different eyes. Readers share the thoughts, conversations, questions, and fears from each perspective. The Darling family is a successful, philanthropic, luxurious family; they are the epitome of the rich and successful in Manhattan financial circles. They are adored by the public and secretly hated by everyone. For the Darlings, family is everything and above all else, they have to maintain their family brand equity. Family comes first, family unconditional. Thanksgiving should have been a festive time, being with family and friends, celebrating in The Hamptons.
“A feast had been laid out. Carrots glazed in brown butter; steaming mashed potatoes; roasted autumn vegetables shimmering with olive oil; Carmela’s famous stuffing – all presented in terra-cotta serving dishes, a symphony of fall color.”
However, not even Thanksgiving can keep a family together as the financial world collapses around them.
“Now she was kneeling on the bathroom floor, trying hopelessly to pick the glass out of the rug before she hurt herself. The fine bones of her feet felt unprotected from the hardness of the tiles.”
The pace is frantic, happening over just one week. Each chapter is identified with the day and time to keep readers informed. In the end, will the family be intact? Who will survive and who will be sacrificed? It is all about the money, and it will be more about the money as soon as they do not have any.
”The Darlings” is a behind the scenes look at the rich, the beautiful, and the successful as they fall. It presents many insights, lots of questions, and some answers – only some. Although set in the world of high finance and banking, the story is relevant, compelling, and almost altogether gloomy. My how the rich have tumbled, and oh how readers love the descent.