Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: The Darlings by Cristina Alger

Author: Christina Alger
Publisher-Format: Penguin Audio Book, 12 hrs, 24 min
Narrator:  Jonathan Fried
Year of publication: 2012
Subject: lives of rich and fallen
Setting: Manhattan, Long Island
Genre: fiction
Source: audio download review copy from publisher

Since audio is one of my favorite formats, I grabbed the ARC when it was offered to me, downloaded it and began listening right away.  Usually when I get an audio, I like to listen to the first 20-30 minutes (sort of like leafing through a book) to get a feel for the cadence, the characters, and a gist of the plot.  At the 2 1/2 hour point, I had to force myself to turn off the audio so I could at least have a human conversation at the dinner table!  I was hooked from the beginning.  I spent the next day doing a lot of driving, swimming, and just plain lazy listening to this one.  I literally could not stop!

Although I thought at first this might be a  re-hash of the same kind of story I'd read last year by Stephanie Madoff Mack recounting her tribulations being Bernie Madoff's daughter-in-law, this did not turn out to be anything like that. What Alger has done is to give us a psychological, edge of the seat "who's going to screw whom" mystery!  The setting is pure New York upper-crust, high society glitz. It has it all--the designer clothes, expensive jewels, flashy cars, doormen, weekend homes in the Hamptons, weekday co-ops in town, poorly paid minions, overworked secretaries, society matrons: a good glimpse into the world of the 1%.  The characters will be loved by some, detested by many others.  The story is familiar to anyone who has read a newspaper or listened to a talk show in the last decade.  But the marvelous evil plot twists have the reader clinging to every page, waiting to see how (or whether) the principal character is able to emerge a free man after he becomes unwittingly enmeshed in the inevitable back-stabbing, shark infested waters of Wall Street hedge fund managers and their uber expensive lawyers.

Alger blind-sides us with a fantastic and unexpected ending (she had me pumping my fist and yelling YES!) and then ties up the story with an epilogue to satisfy our "But what about?s"  It is an altogether satisfying read that is especially well-suited to the audio format, and the sonorous tones of Jonathan Fried's narration.
CRISTINA ALGER received her BA from Harvard College and her JD from New York University Law School. She has worked as an analyst at Goldman, Sachs, & Co., and as an attorney at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale, & Dorr. She was born and raised in New York City, where she currently resides. This is her first novel.

Many thanks to Sarah Jaffe at Penguin Audio for making this available.


  1. Glad to hear the audio was good as I'm waiting for my turn at the library. Great review Tina.

  2. well, I read it rather than listened, but I liked it too.


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