Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: The Privileges - Jonathan Dee

No idea if another round of Cannonball Read is going to start up anytime soon, but I'm still planning to use this blog to post reviews and track the books I read.

First book after completing the Cannonball Read II challenge was The Privileges by Jonathan Dee.  I won this book through a Random House Reader's Group giveaway.

Smart and socially gifted, Adam and Cynthia Morey are perfect for each other. With Adam’s rising career in the world of private equity, a beautiful home in Manhattan, gorgeous children, and plenty of money, they are, by any reasonable standard, successful. But for the Moreys, their future of boundless privilege is not arriving fast enough. As Cynthia begins to drift, Adam is confronted with a choice that will test how much he is willing to risk to ensure his family’s happiness and to recapture the sense that the only acceptable life is one of infinite possibility. The Privileges is an odyssey of a couple touched by fortune, changed by time, and  guided above all else by their epic love for each other.  - Random House
This book is the second book profiling a marriage from start to finish that I've read in the past year.  The first book was Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel. I don't know if my subconscious is pulling me towards these books because I'm getting married next year or what.  In The Privileges, I kept waiting for them to fall out of love.  Watching TV shows and movies, I'm become jaded in expecting marriages to fall apart.  In a way it was hard to believe that two people so well off wouldn't be cheating on each other.  I'm glad that Jonathan Dee provided a positive example of a wealthy couple still loving each other after a decade of marriage even if it's a fictional couple.

Most of the story is told from the parents' view point, but there are some sections of the book from the kids' point of view as well.  We learn a lot about Cynthia's family but not much about Adam's.  They are only mentioned in the opening wedding scene and Conrad's visit in NYC later on.  In a way I felt the book was a little slated towards Cynthia and her problems.

I thought an interesting characteristic of Cynthia was her gut reaction to fix any problem was her checkbook.  And when she found a situation that couldn't be fixed by her checkbook she was lost.  Again, I'm curious if this characteristic is found in many wealthy housewives or it was just exaggerated for the plot of this book.

I also found it interesting that Cynthia and Adam moved from apartment to apartment within the city and finally to a house on Long Island. In a way, Dee pointed out that wealthy folks don't end up in the big mansions right away.  They move around "upgrading" each time they buy.  I did appreciate in the last third of the book that Adam and Cynthia focused on giving away their money to others to help "make a difference." They reminded me of the work that Bill and Melinda Gates are doing through their foundation. 

This book was a great surprise and was a quick read.  I would recommend it to readers who are fans of the TV show Gossip Girl or the book Nanny Diaries.

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