‘The Darlings’ by Cristina Alger

'The Darlings' by Cristina Alger

One particular line used on this novel’s book jacket as a description, namely, that ‘The Darlings’ offers, ‘… a rarefied glimpse into the highest echelons of New York society seldom seen by outsiders’ really intrigued me – and that teaser alone talked me into flipping through these pages. Being a woman who has matriculated and worked in New York City on and off for the past 10 years, I was curious to see what exactly this author had to share with me per the elite upper class of this great city.

'The Darlings' by Cristina Alger
Author of ‘The Darlings’: Cristina Alger

Alger’s readers navigate through the eyes and experiences of the fictional Darlings’ family. Ines, Carter, Lily and Merrill Darling whisk you around New York – their spouses, secretaries, and hanger-ons in tow – wearing their over-priced, over-ruffled couture and Nantucket reds. And at first, you are swept up into their luxury and enjoy, along with them, all the privledge money can offer. But as you thumb further through the pages, cracks in the facade of perfection begin to appear until they eventually spread and shatter the whole – for we all know nothing and no one is perfect.

‘To be jealous of money is uninspired … You can only be jealous of someone who has something that you can never have. More style, for example, or wit. Money is easily earned.’

Most of the characters in ‘The Darlings’ are spoiled, selfish, immoral, highly unlikeable – and for me, a girl comfortable in New York, highly recognizable. And although Merrill and her husband, Paul, are generally likable and relatable characters, there is a certain feeling of reader satisfaction in watching the Darlings’s lives come crashing down around them – most specifically, patriarch, Carter Darling.

‘The greatest strength you can have is to know your own strengths. You’ve got to figure out what you’re good at and make the most of it.’

In the end, although the book was incredibly enjoyable, I do not feel as though I was offered a rarified glimpse into the elite of New York. The truth is, if you spend any length of time in this city, you inevitably brush elbows with someone who makes as much in a day as the average man makes in a year. If you spend any length of time in this city, you will see and experience the spoiled, the privileged, and the at-times thoughtless elite. This city is great, and horrible, all in one breath because of and in spite of this truth – and I think Alger’s book, in a sense, was her own therapeutic way of bringing the positive and negative aspects of this lifestyle of intense, over-opulent luxury into view. Oddly enough, Alger both seems to admire and be disgusted by the characters she creates in this tale. All the same, Alger is a lovely writer who effortlessly ties together an interesting story, characters directly mirrored from New York Time newspaper headlines, and a witty turn of phrase – best illustrated near the conclusion of the tale:

‘Tomorrow, they would no longer be the Darlings of New York …’

Salon Summary

RECOMMENDABILITY: 4 {out of 5} stars | ★★★★☆
REPETITIVE READABILITY: 2 {out of 5} stars | ★★☆☆☆
RATING: 4 {out of 5} stars | ★★★★☆

{This novel was gifted to Her Literary Salon by Penguin Books.}