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The Privileges: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle) Paperback – October 5, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
So when a handsome, charming sociopath meets a beautiful, proud narcissist in college, first comes love, then comes marriage... Wallstreet is destiny.
Adam has no regrets, he could not care less about yesterday and he has nothing resembling emotional bonds outside of his own nuclear family and nothing but his wife really matters as she satisfies any need for the justification of his ruthless ambition. Cynthia on the other hand, cares little for those beyond her own nuclear family unless they gratify her self-image in some way. Both are not just unsentimental. They are asentimental. She briefly has small a crisis of self-faith about her performance as a top notch mom over a minor incident which sets off a rousing round of justification for Adam's insider trading. Insider trading and illegal offshoring of ill-gotten funds is therefore noble because it's for the family cause, but infidelity would be an unspeakable transgression in this relationship.
I'm not sure what purpose the kids serve to further this vignette unless it's because everyone has them, maybe even especially narcissists and sociopaths. And the kids do serve up a couple of different perspectives on what a casual rather causal relationship with such wealth breeds and Dee invests a lot of time in them plot-wise.Read more ›
There has been much written today about the spoiled, irresponsible, and unethical affluent -- their values, their lifestyle, their implosions. Characters don't necessarily have to be "likable" to be interesting; for example, Tom Wolfe in Bonfires of the Vanities, Caitlin Macy in Spoiled, and Claire Messud in The Emperor's Children create solid narratives based on the most wealthy Americans. For the first half of this book, it appeared to me that Jonathan Dee would rise to this strata.
Indeed, at the beginning, Mr. Dee carefully crafts a narrative of Adam and Cynthia, and leads the reader to the point of their temptation -- where they view Adam's mentor's extravagant "country" house. But then, inconceivably, the threads begin unraveling and the story begins falling apart.
The focus of the book shifts to the children -- April and Jonah -- who are nowhere as interesting as their parents (who also begin to drift into the landscape of cliches). Dare I say they are actually boring? They are the children of privilege and their lives become insular and one-dimensional -- April's flirtation with physical and substance abuse danger, Jonah's yearning for something "real". They drift from one experience to the other, always narcissists without the in-depth back story to make them appealing to the reader.
At one point, Mr. Dee writes, "It wasn't about being rich per se.Read more ›
They marry young, the story opens with their wedding, and they both exude rare confidence. Cynthia has meager feelings for anyone except Adam and her elusive father. Adam appears to have stepped out of his blue collar family and has found Cynthia, a true partner to help him triumph.
What they both lack in conscience is made up in their aspirations for wealth and power. Adam is the star at a small investment firm where he does well every year earning large salaries and larger bonuses. But it is not enough for him. He steps out of the legitimate realm, hooks up with a small time crook and sets up a separate operation which boosts his income making him a rich man, who does not get caught. His timing is perfect; he shuts down this venture and later starts a hedge fund where investors beg him for inclusion, reminiscent of Bernie Madoff. They have two children, the daughter is the stereotypical spoiled brat who can do anything and her parents will bail her out no matter what. The son has more depth and some despair. Dee's characterizations of this family are rich with significant milestones in their lives.
This could have been a trite story of how the rich live and it's never enough, but Dee's writing is excellent and I know people like Adam and Cynthia. They are real to me. Nothing dreadful happens to them, they in truth don't care about anyone.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Dee is a fantastic novelist. Not only is his writing gorgeous, but he also writes about entertaining subjects. At the same time, his characters are complex and compelling.Published 1 month ago by Abby
Great book, super realistic portrayal of flawed, realistic people. A little bit of a downer, but that's because it's honest...Published 1 month ago by ashley
This novel starts off well, but I abandoned it when the story jumped forward with no transitions.Published 7 months ago by ACOA
It is beyond me why this book would be lauded in anyway. With or without the wealth that they acquire, the characters are not interesting in anyway - they remain without any... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Lawrence L. Williams
What are we to make of the Moreys? They are a "perfect" family on paper in some ways; loving, monogamous marriage; committed parents; tight little family circle. Read morePublished 13 months ago by bookworm
Not being from that class. It was interesting to see how that small percentage live their lives. Good story line! Characters were well thought out. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Hookee
This is an outstanding book even if the "don't like the ending" crowd was disappointed. He wasn't writing a fairy tale where everyone had to turn out all right. Read morePublished 17 months ago by PatsyQ