For Your Reading List: The Darlings
Cristina Alger discusses her first novel, a fall of the family tale that rivals the real-life story of the Madoffs.
February 20, 2012
In her debut novel, The Darlings, former lawyer Cristina Alger tackles subjects that she has experienced firsthand. From family ties and loyalties to the world of Wall Street and the economic crash, Alger's characters traverse sensitive yet timely issues under the microscope of New York's high society. Here, the author opens up about her switch from law to writing, the process of publishing her first novel, and her opinions on the current economy.
What sparked your decision to move from law and finance to writing?
I enjoyed my job and always saw writing as a side hobby. I found myself spending more and more time doing it, and I ended up showing the [book] to a friend who is a writer. She thought it was great and thought I should go off and find an agent. It was the first time I thought that I could, maybe, do this full-time and see if I could consider this a job and not a hobby. When I first left [law], I was a little bit nervous that I would miss the structure and miss having colleagues. Then I found that I loved it and it felt like I was doing what I thought was my hobby as a job, and I'm still marveled that that's the case.
How did you come up with the concept for the book?
When I started working on it, it struck me that I was watching history unfold. They were traumatic times for Wall Street, and New York generally. I started working on a story based on a family company, because I grew up in that environment. I thought it created an interesting stage for personal familly issues to play out. Eventually, I [plotted] my story with the Darling family and got very involved with the characters, building a larger story around them.
Where do you see the economy going in future years?
One of the things that I wanted to do in my book was show a changing of the guard a little bit, and have the characters that have stronger ethical values come out on top. I guess that was my sort of a hopeful way of saying that I hope that the turmoil of the market would allow for a little bit of reordering. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF CRISTINAALGER.COM