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The Privileges

Jonathan Dee

8 Reviews

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Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

From acclaimed author Jonathan Dee comes a lyrical novel about the ways wealth can change and fortify a family over time, forcing them to re-examine what really matters.

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 protege. 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' standard is 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 decision that tests how much he is willing to risk to ensure his family's happiness and to recapture the sense that, for him and his wife, 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, it is a timely meditation on wealth, family, and what it means to leave the world richer than you found it.

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Praise for The Privileges

  • A deliciously sophisticated engine of literary darkness. - The Guardian

  • Lucidly written and with a pitch-perfect ear both for contemporary mores and dialogue, The Privileges is entertaining - and morally ambiguous. - The Economist

  • Mr Dee has given us a cunning, seductive novel about the people we thought we'd all agreed to hate. His case study of American mega-wealth is delicious page by page and masterly in its balancing of sympathy and critical distance.

  • ... a deliciously sophisticated engine of literary darkness, seducing the reader into sympathy with a young Manhattan couple whose ascent to megawealth then takes them beyond the reach of anybody's sympathy. Strong novels for a deep recession. - The Guardian

  • Dee is graceful; articulate and perceptive, and often hilariously funny... full of elegance, vitality and complexity. - New York Times

  • Here is an incredibly readable, intelligent, incisive portrait of a particular kind of American family. Dee takes us inside the world of what desire for wealth can do, and cannot do, both for the self, the soul and the family. Told with admirable conciseness and yet with great breadth, the reader is swept along, watching the complications of such desire unfold.

  • The Privileges is verbally brilliant, intellectually astute and intricately knowing. It is also very funny and a great, great pleasure to read. Jonathan Dee is a wonderful writer.

  • The Privileges is an intimate portrait of a wealthy family that gradually becomes an indictment of an entire social class and historical moment, while also providing a window onto some recent, and peculiarly American, forms of decadence. Jonathan Dee is at once an acerbic social critic, an elegant stylist, and a shrewd observer of the human comedy. - Tom Perrotta

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Jonathan Dee

Jonathan Dee is the author of seven novels, including The Locals, A Thousand Pardons, and The Privileges, which was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, he teaches in the graduate writing program at Syracuse University.

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