... 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 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.
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.
Jonathan Dee's scintillating fifth novel, The Privileges, tells the story of a golden couple, Adam and Cynthia Morey, who rise swiftly from modest Midwestern circumstances to immense wealth in New York. The book opens at their wedding in Pittsburgh, a scene that's a tour de force of shifting points of view, rendered with artistry and control I haven't seen since Ann Patchett's Bel Canto.
The subjects of money and class are seldom tackled head-on by our best literary minds, which is one of the reasons that Jonathan Dee's The Privileges is such an important and compelling work. The Privileges is a pitch-perfect evocation of a particular stratum of New York society as well as a moving meditation on family and romantic love. The tour de force first chapter alone is worth the price of admission.
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.
Lucidly written and with a pitch-perfect ear both for contemporary mores and dialogue, The Privileges is entertaining - and morally ambiguous.
Beautifully perceptive and wholly absorbing.
A deliciously sophisticated engine of literary darkness.
Dee is graceful; articulate and perceptive, and often hilariously funny... full of elegance, vitality and complexity.
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.