Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Privileges

Publisher's Summary. Smart, socially gifted, and chronically impatient, Adam and Cynthia Morey are so perfect for each other that united they become a kind of fortress against the world. In their hurry to start a new life, they marry young and have two children before Cynthia reaches the age of twenty-five. Adam is a rising star in the world of private equity and becomes his boss's protégé. With a beautiful home in the upper-class precincts of Manhattan, gorgeous children, and plenty of money, they are, by any reasonable standard, successful.

But the Moreys' standards are not the same as other people's. The future in which they have always believed for themselves and their children—a life of almost boundless privilege, in which any desire can be acted upon and any ambition made real—is still out there, but it is not arriving fast enough to suit them. As Cynthia, at home with the kids day after identical day, 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. Lyrical, provocative, and brilliantly imagined, this is a timely meditation on wealth, family, and what it means to leave the world richer than you found it.

Life is good, very, very, good for Adam and Cynthia Morey. The Moneys, oops I mean Moreys, have lots of money thanks to Adam’s hedge fund trading, both legitimate and illegitimate. They are self made multimillionaires who live in the gilded ward of Manhattan’s Upper Eastside with a little place in the “country” as in the Hamptons. The Moreys also have two children, April and Jonas, who are raised to believe that every wish is entitled to fulfillment. As Cynthia angrily declares, “what was supposed to be the point of denying them anything?” In fact, Cynthia delights in the then seven year old, April’s, designer wants (she knows to ask for Tory Burch shoes!).

To say that the Privileges is a character driven novel does not mean that the novel lacks a plotline, rather the story takes a back seat to the characters’ development. Every five years or so, the novel peeks in on the Moreys. And although time marches on, the characters follow largely predictable paths. The Moreys rarely take the time to reflect upon their actions. Nor are they particularly endearing. For instance, while the reader is repeatedly told of Adam and Cynthia’s great love, one never gains any insight into the relationship itself. That is, what drew them together and what sustains their love other than a mutual desire for money obtained through any means? In addition, while Cynthia and Adam have largely divorced their parents from their lives the reader not given a reason for this extreme behavior other than a few throw away references to growing up in modest circumstances and, in one case, a parent’s ill temper. In short, the characters’ inner lives remain shrouded in mystery.

The Privileges, by Jonathan Dee, is a beautifully written novel about unlikeable characters living unexamined lives.

Publisher: Random House (January 5, 2010), 272 pages.
Advance Review Copy Provided Coutesy of the Publisher.


  1. Wow, that story sounds like it could be true! I think I would like it! Thanks for your review!

  2. Oh Kim, I so want to read this book --it sounds so realistic. Your review was terrific! Thanks

  3. Nice review, sounds like an interesting book, hm

  4. Enjoyed your review of this book! It sounds pretty interesting!