Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Darlings

Several months ago, I read a review of this book, by Cristina Alger. After what felt like eons on the waiting list, my copy finally came in at the library!

I would definitely recommend this book! It tells the story of a family, the Darlings, and the collapse of their hedge-fund business during the financial turmoil of recent years. The entire collapse unfurls during the course of one tense Thanksgiving weekend, making it a perfect fit to read during this season. This story includes plenty of insight into the technical basis for the financial collapse, as well as the effects of the rapid loss of wealth on those who had enjoyed it. Before picking up this novel, I expected that its tale would focus blame on one political approach or another: pointing the finger at either too much regulation or not enough as the underlying cause of the financial collapse. I was really impressed that the author avoided this temptation and told a story about a business that collapsed for reasons that were basically independent of the political process.

This book reminded me a lot of the very best movie I've seen regarding the financial crisis: Margin Call. The primary similarity between these two narratives is the way they present the convergence of multiple perspectives. For example, in the book, we move through time in chronological order, including a statement of the date and time at the beginning of each chapter. However, the author effortlessly bounces from one narrator to another, telling the story from a range of viewpoints. In fact, one of the viewpoints that was the most important was that of the administrative staff to very powerful people. (This happened in Margin Call, also.) These two stories were also similar in that they described a mystery unraveling in a hurry, which made the "time-stamped" chapters an even more effective way to tell the story. The only part of this book I enjoyed even more than Margin Call was the added component of how making tough decisions affected relationships within the family. I'm definitely a sucker for that kind of drama! Overall, I enjoyed this book a ton and would certainly recommend it!

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