The Darling CD [UNABRIDGED]
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The Darling CD [UNABRIDGED]

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  1,558 ratings  ·  216 reviews
The Darling is Hannah Musgrave's story, told emotionally and convincingly years later by Hannah herself. A political radical and member of the Weather Underground, Hannah has fled America to West Africa, where she and her Liberian husband become friends and colleagues of Charles Taylor, the notorious warlord and now ex-president of Liberia. When Taylor leaves for the Unite...more
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Published October 1st 2004 by HarperAudio (first published September 21st 2004)
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Leslie
Aug 30, 2007 Leslie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: non girly-girl women
the woman's point of view is so well done in this book that it's hard to believe it was authored by a man. i simultaneously loved and loathed the main character. the fact that it's historically accurate, and that charles taylor, who is featured prominently in the novel, has been in the press recently, make it all the more interesting.
Stephanie
War, massacre and menage a trois (thanks to LC for coining this phrase!). That pretty much sums up this disappointing book by the author of the great "The Sweet Hereafter". "The Darling" is long-winded, self indulgent, and at times, quite unrealistic. The protagonist is a white woman who fled to Liberia after creating and setting off a few bombs for the Weather Underground. We are constantly reminded of her mindset (and her bed mates) and she doesn't come off as an authentic female character, bu...more
Stacia
I really wanted to like this book, and it was a very good book, but I didn't really like it. As always, Banks's writing is gorgeous. Though the book is written in first person, Liberia was, for me, the central character, primarily because the narrator was so detached from the events she described that I was detached from her. It was quite odd, reading a first-person narrative and feeling so little connection to the narrator. The reading group guide led me to believe I should have gained all thes...more
Lena Webb
I have incredibly disturbing thoughts about primates, and this book didn't help me out one bit.
Friederike Knabe
"There are certain things about me that I won't reveal to you until you understand...", Hannah Musgrave tells her readers. She is the central axis of this rich and engaging tale of one woman's journey from a privileged childhood to a quiet life on a farm in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. The interim period, however, is dramatic and unconventional. She drops out of her middle class life as a young student, frustrated with the comfort of that life and the people around her. Joining...more
JoAnn/QuAppelle
The main character was so despicable!

As I read this book, I wanted to grab Hannah/Dawn and smack her face. What a despicable character....and what a writing genius Banks is, at least in this book, to make me feel this way.

However, I like linear novels, so Banks' jumping back and forth in time is NOT my favorite device. This is not a spoiler: Wouldn't the book have been just as effective if the reader had not known at the beginning that Hannah escaped from Liberia and got back to the States? Wha...more
Stephen Wallant
OK No. Anyone who says anything about this book is wrong. This book is about this girl in the weather underground, like your parents? And Forrest Gump. So she goes underground. But she's not like the girl in American Pastoral who becomes totally annoying and pisses everyone off. Not that she didn't piss a LOT of people off. So she goes into hiding, and fucks off to Africa. Aggra. Agra. Ghana! Word, I TOTALLY want to go to Agra, Ghana after reading this book.

OK so she's hiding out. And who is she...more
Dayna
Dec 19, 2008 Dayna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dayna by: my boss
This book doesn't take on life until 1/4 way in, when Hannah Musgrave has returned to Liberia (to which she first fled in order to escape her possible imprisonment as a member of the the Weather Underground) to confront certain "ghosts" from her past. Russell Banks, to his credit, keeps these ghosts rather vague - does she return to confront the spirits of the chimpanzees who had fallen under her care and who perished because of her choices? Or to find the sons she had abandoned, the sons who ha...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
There aren't many Liberian authors - something like three, according to Wikipedia - and there aren't many books set there either. If you want a good idea of what the deal is with Liberia, where it is and what happened in its recent history, this is an excellent book for educating yourself.

Hannah Musgrove is a well-educated American with a famous doctor for a father and a fluttering, apparently silly woman for a mother. It's the 60s, and just before finishing her medical degree she drops out and...more
Peggy
i did not understand the narrator one iota. now, that is not always necessary for me to enjoy a book. but this person did not feel real, feel human. she was a person with a story that might have happened - but this narrator was an empty shell. this story could not possibly have happened to HER. maybe that was what the book was trying to say (she was incredibly detached?) - but if so - i never felt like that dynamic was explored. i also found her annoying. again, this doesn't doom a book for me....more
Rob
I'd forgotten how much I love Russell Banks. The Darling is complex, sprawling, melancholy, and terrifying, and it taught me more about Liberia than I thought I'd ever learn (and want to know). It's useless to try and summarize the plot except to say that it's about a woman who becomes a traitor to the U.S. in the 60's, moves to Africa, marries a member of Liberia's ruling party, and opens a sanctuary for chimps. Except it's so much more than that. Like his earlier novel Cloudsplitter (about rad...more
Gwen
Until the very last page, I wondered why this wasn't called "The Dreamers." A book that melds 1960s radical activism (Civil Rights Movement, feminism, and Weather Underground) and political upheaval in Liberia, there was enough history to keep me reading. Hannah Musgrove was an exasperating protagonist: too self-reflective yet not quite introspective, unable to (openly) love people but willing to commit emotionally to animals, hard on others but somehow letting herself off. The CIA, American rad...more
Snotchocheez

And I thought Rule of the Bone was wack...

Somehow, Russell Banks ties his beloved Adirondack Mountains to subversive Left-wing anti-government activity of the late 60s-early 70s AND throws in a historical portrait of war-torn, bloody West Africa in the mid 70s-early 80s, whips up a frothy stew, and comes up with quite an engaging, page-turning little gem in The Darling. Much like Banks did with Cloudsplitter and John Brown's life, (but with considerably more attention-grabbing bravado), he takes...more
Chad
Who is the protagonist of Russell Banks’s 2004 novel The Darling? Is it Hannah Musgrave, the privileged daughter of a famous New England child-rearing expert? Perhaps Dawn Carrington, the political radical and member of the Weather Underground---a woman who forges passports, builds bombs, and is ultimately forced to flee America to avoid imprisonment? Maybe the novel’s protagonist/anti-heroine is Mrs. Woodrow Sundiata, the wife of Liberia’s Assistant Minister of Public Health? Hannah/Dawn/Mrs. S...more
Richard
I saw Russell Banks read when Affliction first came out. He came across as a very thoughtful man who was a novelist of the human heart--the book is one of his best, though I was also quite fond of Continental Drift. Banks had a mind towards international waters (he said in the Q & A afterwards, when someone asked how much he knew about Haiti when writing Drift, that he only started learning about the place when he decided he wanted to write about it and did not decide to write about Haiti be...more
Ryan
I really, really enjoyed this book, found it very engrossing and well-written. In reading the other reviews I found that people really hated the main character, Hannah, but I found her to be very real. Yes, very cold and detached and definitely flawed, but I found her voice to be shockingly believable and relatable, especially since it's written by a man.

The book is about a woman who has had 3 lives - first as the privileged daughter who joins the Weather Underground, second as the American seek...more
Renee
I found The Darling to be a political-historical narrative of great scope and range. The "darling" of the story is Dawn Carrington, neé Hannah Musgrave, a political radical and member of the Weather Underground forced to flee America to avoid arrest. At the time of the novel, she is 59, living on her working farm in upstate New York with four younger women, recalling her life in Liberia and her recent return to that country to look for her sons (Amazon).
I listened to this book on audio and was c...more
Roland
Big fan of all of Russell Banks' work. This one gives great insight to the history of Western influence/exploitation of Africa and how it's ramifications are really coming to a head today. The protagonist is an unsentimental former SDS and WU radical who expatriates to Liberia and marries into the highest tiers of government. Charles Taylor is a significant character in the book which goes on to describe the revolution of which he took over. Particularly interesting in light of Liberia's recent...more
Marguerite
Apr 01, 2008 Marguerite rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marguerite by: NYT?
What a weird experience this book was. What a weird experience this book was. It was on one of those best-of lists, and I brought it home dutifully and read about 100 pages ... only to realize I'd tried to read it before, but just couldn't get into it. The problem was, it wasn't memorable enough to register on my consciousness, either positively or negatively. This is my literary "Groundhog Day."
Rachel Bell
I love Mr. Banks. This book was an interesting read because of the historical events the story is wrapped around. However, I had a difficult time believing that the main character, a mother, could be that detached. It is some how believable when he writes about men but his foray into writing from a female voice I think falls short.
Callista
Protagonist was completely unbelievable as a woman or mother. Doesn't seem as though the author's research on Monrovia was thorough. Please - especially if you are a friend of mine looking for information on Liberia - do not read this. Read The House On Sugar Beach, which is a much more accurate description.
Gillian
An interesting story, very timely as we listen to news of Charles Taylor's trial in the Hague for war crimes while ruling Liberia. THe disapointment is that the protagonist is a very un-maternal female, created by a male and somewhathrd to relate to.
Andrea
This author's most spectacular failure to date. The main character is whiny and strange, and the minor African characters with whom she interacts are inscrutably vicious stereotypes of the "uncivilized other."
Ron Charles
Born in 1821 from a weird union of benevolence and racism, Liberia is the bastard child of American history. Liberals in the North and slave holders in the South considered the new African colony either a just or an expedient place to dispose of free blacks. Eventually, about 15,000 African-Americans were shipped to the small coastal colony, where they ruled over the native people in a fashion not unlike the system back home, driving the country through crises of debt and corruption that continu...more
Annie
My latest read by Russell Banks involves complicated emotions, politics, characters, and even the writing structure. Accordingly I have "complicated" feelings about this book and it will take time to churn them into a real opinion. The protagonist is difficult for me to connect with, or even like. A Banks book I read earlier this summer (Lost Memory of Skin) main character was a young male sex offender while in The Darling it is a woman, about my age, who is passionate about politics, race, anim...more
Nancy Oakes
Somehow, I was expecting a bit more from this book. The story focuses on a woman named Hannah Musgrave, aka Dawn Carrington, aka Hannah Sundiata. During her college years, she works for civil rights in the south and for other causes, and then, just before graduating from Harvard Medical School, becomes a radical activist, and works sort of on the sidelines for the Weather Underground. She finds herself on the FBI's most wanted list, and after her friend puts her in a tough spot, she takes off fo...more
Cleo
I loved Russell Bank's book Cloudsplitter, which I read a few years ago, and I was really looking forward to The Darling. I was not disappointed either. The Darling is set in Liberia and the US between 1975-91. It is the story of one Hannah Musgrave, who was a member of the Weather Underground. She fled from America to west Africa, where she and her African husband fell in with Charles Taylor, the notorious criminal warlord. She eventually participates in Taylor's escape from prison. This was in...more
Tim
I wouldn't call Russell Banks America's very best writer, but he's in a pretty select group.

"The Darling" is another beautifully written, gripping (in a small way) gem from a true craftsman. I certainly wouldn't place it among Banks' very best ("Cloudsplitter" is clearly top of the heap) but the fact that I still give four stars to a book that might be the least of the four Banks books I've read should say something.

A first-person account from Hannah Musgrave (among other names)-- a Weather Unde...more
Jane
"The Darling" is another outstanding novel by Russell Banks. Powerful and complex, it's the story of Hannah Musgrave. Born of well-to-do liberal-minded parents, Hannah joins the Weathermen radical movement in the 60s; she excels at bomb-making and passport-forging. As the Weathermen find themselves arrested and under indictment, Hannah goes underground, living with a woman and her daughter and going by the name Dawn Carrington. Hannah/Dawn eventually leaves the United States and ends up in Liber...more
Martin
Strangely enough, I had never read any Russel Banks until picking up this novel in the $1 bargain bin at a bookstore. I was, however, familiar with Mr. Banks reputation as a novelist, and had even seen the film adaptations of two of his books, so a dollar seemed to be a safe bet. And to say the least, it was money well spent.

While a lot of the reviews I have read on Goodreads, all of which I read after finishing the book, seem to reflect that this might not be the author's strongest work, I foun...more
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  • Harbor
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  • Verre cassé
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Russell Banks is a member of the International Parliament of Writers and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards. He has written fiction, and more recently, non-fiction, with Dreaming up America. His main works include the novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplit...more
More about Russell Banks...
Rule of the Bone The Sweet Hereafter Lost Memory of Skin Cloudsplitter Affliction

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“my blue eyes peering into their brown eyes and seeing there some essential part of myself, some irreducible aspect of my being, which in turn gave them back the same reflected version of themselves” 2 likes
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