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Bok Club Discussion Questions and Reading Guide- The Darlings by Christina Alger

The Darlings

By Cristina Alger

PBR Book Review:

A very timely book with an intriguing beginning that pulls the reader in immediately. The Darling family is rich and privileged. They are also the center of a SEC investigation that threatens to bring them down. This book, reminiscent of recent ponzi schemes, shows the destructive path of greed, the life style of the NYC wealthy and “who” they are willing to sacrifice to maintain the status quo. It’s fast paced, emotionally engaging and certainly captures the edgy financial difficulties Wall Street has experienced recently. Recommend for those looking for a light read with eccentric characters and a glimpse into the world of the financially elite.

Book Club Talking Points:

This is a light read – good for vacation or the beach. The main talking points revolve around greed and the state of denial. There is also some insight into life in high society. Since similar stories have made the news recently, it may be interesting to contrast the real life version to this fictionalized account.

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*Author Website:

*Other Books by Same Author: Debut novel for this author

*Discussion Questions

1. Explain what the author means by, “The Darlings were people of privilege, and people of privilege was what they would remain, no matter what the cost.” (p. 127) What do you think are the must–haves or must–dos for people like the Darlings? Which aspects of their privileged life sound alluring? Which don't?

2. Paul feels somewhat trapped in the life that he thought he wanted so badly when he married Merrill. In what ways has marrying into the Darling family been a blessing and a curse?

3. Describe the relationship—professional and socially—between Duncan and Marina. How is it mutually beneficial? How does their relationship change over the course of the novel?

4. Ines laments what her life will be like after the scandal: “She would make a lifetime of avoiding the people she had once worked so hard to befriend. Even getting coffee at the deli around the corner would be a gauntlet run. She would have to wear a hat and slip in and out, unnoticed.” (p. 217) Are Ines's fears of being ostracized well founded? Do you believe she had any inkling what her husband was up to? What are ways that she could have stopped things from getting out of hand?

5. Who is the hero in this novel? Why?

6. Lily has “accepted her mother's determination that Merrill was smart and Lily was pretty.” (p. 40) How has Ines's determination affected each of her daughters' lives? Compare their reactions to their family's tragedy.

7. Schadenfreude is the enjoyment we obtain from the troubles of others. The Darlings know their story will be a media sensation. Why do we love watching famous, wealthy, or powerful people fall from grace? What are some recent examples? How is the media helpful in scandals such as the one described here? How is it harmful?

8. Yvonne says, “They were willing to sell out family, to save themselves. That's a line that I just don't ever want to cross.” (p. 294) What do you think of her sentiment? How would your opinion of her change if Paul hadn't been implicated and she allowed someone else to take the fall? What were her true motives for giving information against her employer? Were her motives noble?

9. Denial is a theme that runs through The Darlings. Paul hoped that “with time and a little distance, the complications of the past might slip away.” (p. 78) At Thanksgiving dinner, they move Morty's empty chair “all the way down to the basement, completely out of sight” (p. 187). What are other instances in the novel where characters deny or avoid a problem? What are times when characters address problems head–on? How are the outcomes different?

10. How do you think Carter's and Ines's descriptions of their marriage might differ? According to Ines, she stayed married to Carter so their daughters would grow up having everything she didn't. What are some other reasons she might have stayed in a failed marriage?

11. When she actually gets a chance to be a journalist, Marina finds new purpose and new energy. Who are some other characters who might have benefited from meaningful work? Who among the characters are the hardest workers?

Book Summary
Pamela Dorman Books , February 16, 2012- Fiction - 352 pages
A sophisticated page-turner about a wealthy New York family embroiled in a financial scandal with cataclysmic consequences.

Now that he's married to Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling, attorney Paul Ross has grown accustomed to New York society and all of its luxuries: a Park Avenue apartment, weekends in the Hamptons, bespoke suits. When Paul loses his job, Carter offers him the chance to head the legal team at his hedge fund. Thrilled with his good fortune in the midst of the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression, Paul accepts the position. But Paul's luck is about to shift: a tragic event catapults the Darling family into the media spotlight, a regulatory investigation, and a red-hot scandal with enormous implications for everyone involved. Suddenly, Paul must decide where his loyalties lie-will he save himself while betraying his wife and in-laws or protect the family business at all costs?

Cristina Alger's glittering debut novel interweaves the narratives of the Darling family, two eager SEC attorneys, and a team of journalists all racing to uncover-or cover up-the truth. With echoes of a fictional Too Big to Fail and the novels of Dominick Dunne, The Darlings offers an irresistible glimpse into the highest echelons of New York society-a world seldom seen by outsiders-and a fast-paced thriller of epic proportions.
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