Oh, Pish Posh Darling.

I didn’t really want to like this book.  Penguin sent it to me as an ARC and like my current high school students, I hate reading books that are forced on me.  Why you ask, do I accept review requests if I don’t really want to read the book?  Well, it’s Penguin, people.  If they even know I exist, I’m quite happy to relish in that glory for a few reviews.

The Darlings by Christina Alger

Plus, this book was actually really decent.  Decent is the only acceptable word for a book about the financial crisis/economy/Wall Street.  I’m going to be really upset if Alger decides not to write about Occupy Wall Street as her second novel.  In The Darlings by Christina Alger, we see the Ponzi scheme come to life and shake up the Darling family of New York City.  Don’t you just want to hate them already because they’re so “darling?”  I can just see them at cocktail hour in their black tie, perfectly pointed heels, and tight-bunned hair.  The girls are debutantes and have played tennis in slick white shorts for their entire upbringing.  All the best riding camps, all the best boarding schools, all the best Harvard acceptance letters for the Darling girls.

And that’s when I realized that I actually really liked Merrill.  But OH, how I wanted to hate her.

From NYU @ Tumblr

I did a lot of hoping to hate in this book, that actually turned into self-loathing for being the kind of person that automatically judges books and people by their covers.  The cover has one sentence blurbs from Publishers Weekly, Entertainment Weekly and USA Today.  I found it surprising that it was an LA Times Bestseller, but no mention of NY and the homage paid to it.  I’m a stuck up cover reader.  If I see a sentence in a blurb that is incredibly manufactured like, “One of the first novels about the 2008 financial crisis…Alger has what it takes, in the best sense.”  I want to know what those “…” are.  What are we missing that wasn’t pertinent to the back cover of this glamorous book, and yet the author in all her blown-hair glory is serious-faced on the back of the cover.  She’s wearing a white button-up, looking like a Darling herself.  I want the full sentence, people! I want to know what happened between “crisis” and “Alger.”  What’s being hidden from me?  I get the sinking feeling that USA Today didn’t give as flattering a review as they were expecting.  Or what about, “Alger…knows her way around twenty-first-centruy wealth and power…a suspenseful, twisty story.” – The Wall Street Journal.  A double dot, dot, dot is even worse.  It’s like the other player getting a double, or dare I say a triple, in scrabble.

Artists Space staff, 1979. Photographed by Cindy Sherman as part of a photo shoot for Cover Magazine.

I digress.

The Darlings is fast-paced. While I wasn’t dying to read what happens next, I did want to finish the book and I was enjoying it as I read in bed.  I pushed myself through while my students were testing today and managed to get to the speedy part at the end where characters I’ve come to respect are getting thrown to the sharks because of Wall Street investors, sleazy lawyers and bad plot situations. Don’t you hate a manufactured plot where you know the good guy is going to win, but you have to read the forty pages until he actually sees that glimmer of hope?

Damn it.

Los Angeles Times: Lizards of Wall Street @ Horsey

I think Alger knows how to write a story.  She changes characters chapter-by-chapter which gives you the feeling of how many people are involved in this scheme and who’s the most to blame, or the hero.  It also makes the story much more snappy.  It leaves a little to be desired in the characterization, but I think she still captured the essence of every person on the page.  I wouldn’t be opposed to her now writing Ines story because she was the character I wanted the most out of and yet, she fell flat.  I also HATED her by the end.  Some of these female characters, not all, make women look like real dodos and I don’t appreciate ever looking like a dodo.  I also didn’t appreciate the biblical and/or boy band names used throughout the book, but what are you going to do with the rich hedge funders of NY?  Kyle just runs in the family.

I’m not going to jump off the cliff for this book, but I recommend bringing it to the beach for vacation and soaking up the rays while feeling like you’re getting a Wall Street education.  Really you’re just reading a stock “rich-in-NY-epic-downfall story.” Hey, nothing’s wrong with that every once in a while.

27 thoughts on “Oh, Pish Posh Darling.

  1. Amanda says:

    As lovely as your review is…after having read The Recessionistas I can’t bring myself to pick up another book about Wall Street shenanigans. Horrible how one bad book can ruin an entire topic for you, isn’t it?

    • Cassie says:

      The Recessionistas?! That sounds like a really bad reality television show about a thrift store. Don’t think I’ll read that. It is horrible when one book ruins it, you’re so right.

  2. nymuse88 says:

    I too am ashamed to say I judge books by their covers or back covers sometimes. I hate that I do it, but it is part of the publishers job to catch our eyes and pry them away from the other books that entice. There have been a couple of times where I tried a book that was forced on me and no matter how hard I tried to hate it…I ended up liking it and sometimes even loving it. Nice review and perhaps I’ll check it out from the library if it’s available or if another book with a flashy cover doesn’t bribe me first. ;)

    • Cassie says:

      Haha, exactly. You have to if you’re a selective reader. There’s far too many books in the world and you have to know when one is going to be better for you than another.

      • nymuse88 says:

        Right! Especially since book prices have risen. I’m really careful about what I buy in the bookstores now, because I usually end up paying over $100 :/ . If I’m not sure, I’ll wait till it shows up in a library.

  3. alenaslife says:

    I’m not ashamed of my cover judgements. I do understand that authors don’t have a lot of cover control, but with all the options out there, I have to screen them somehow. Another lovely review, but I think I’ll skip it.

    • Cassie says:

      I think you should. It wasn’t one of those that I wanted to scream about. As you can see I didn’t get all flowery in my review. You won’t miss anything.

  4. Tara says:

    First, this does sound like an intriguing book. Would you say it is adult? YA? New Adult? Second…I’m jealous you are in with Penguin. I’ve been trying to get them to send me books for ages!

    • Cassie says:

      It’s definitely adult.

      Girl, I just got in. I don’t know how, some miracle of miracles. I really want in with Harper Collins and if I email them for ARCs, they’re usually good about getting them to me, but Penguin emailed me and I couldn’t say no, ever ever ever. Just keep emailing! You’ll get on their list I’m sure. : )

  5. Bea says:

    I loved the review, and the revelations about pre-judging. I must admit to being an “Occupy Wallstreet” fan, and thus have certain ideas about the wall street types. Your review reminds me not to judge a book by it’s cover or a person by their occupation. Thank you for the insight.

  6. Brianna Soloski says:

    I think this book would make me go grrr. I got a ton of books for review a couple of years ago. I think I read three of them. It’s probably not going to bode well for getting future review copies. I’d rather review indies anyway, so it’s fine with me.

      • Brianna Soloski says:

        It happens. I got a book to review once that turned out to be a sequel, but the book wasn’t marketed as a sequel. Once I found and read the first book, I flew through the sequel.

      • Cassie says:

        That’s so weird. I wish they would always label books in a sequence as the number they are. When they don’t it’s so hard to tell which one to buy next.

      • Brianna Soloski says:

        I know. Amazon does that a lot with their Kindle books. It seems like every YA book in existence is at least a trilogy, but they don’t mark them. Usually, the authors are decent about marking them on GoodReads.

  7. Farah Ng @ Broken Penguins says:

    I requested this on NetGalley because it sounded so interesting. But I generally like books about the rich and snotty. And I was a big fan of Too Big to Fail. A little sad to hear that the characters fell short for you though. I’ll still give it a shot. I hear they’re making a TV show out of this one too.

    • Cassie says:

      I think you’ll like it then. They are making a tv show and that’s why they’re trying to get more reviewers out there. I think I will watch the show now that I feel like I know these people.

  8. Jenny says:

    Well, huh! I totally want to hate this and yet I am swayed by your arguments about it. Truthfully the only “Darling” I am down for is the one that goes with “Jim Dear”, and even then I feel a little ambivalent. This book sounds like a very good subway read. I like a fast-paced thing.

    • Cassie says:

      I love that you read fast-paced on a fast-paced mode of transportation. It matches! Don’t worry I feel your pain about the need to hate, it was actually good though. Plus, they’re making a television show for it on Bravo – which of course means it will be ridiculous.

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