The Privileges – Jonathan Dee

“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’ 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.”

This isn’t usually the type of book I read, but I enjoyed it. One of the most unique things about The Privileges is Jonathan Dee’s uncanny affinity with the youth of today, which is a very difficult thing to achieve – authors often end up over-shooting the mark and dropping in lexis typical of the perceived ‘yoof’ today.

The Privileges reads like one long chapter (helped along by the fact that there are only five in all). This occasionally makes it difficult to grasp, especially without the timestamp of exact birthdays or years and only vague nods to what age the characters must be throughout, but it somehow works. Its almost stream-of-consciousness narrative style means that we feel involved in the characters’ lives from the start, especially the children, who go from youngsters to drug-taking art-loving young adults in the blink of an eye (or turn of a page).

The book is focused on a very blessed family, but there is a dark undertone to the novel – a series of negative events and landmarks which means that the reader doesn’t lose sympathy for the family. Rather than making them smug and gilded, the Moreys are kept grounded. Their money is in fact of little matter; despite references to ‘the jet’ here or ‘millions’ there, they’re portrayed as a normal, everyday middle-class family – with all the dysfunctional relationships to boot.

A clever, smooth novel with sophisticated but accessible, The Privileges gives the reader story of true love – with a gritty, realistic twist.

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