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The Privileges

3.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,324 Ratings  ·  707 Reviews
Smart and socially gifted, Adam and Cynthia Morey are perfect for each other. With Adam’s rising career in the world of private equity, a beautiful home in Manhattan, gorgeous children, and plenty of money, they are, by any reasonable standard, successful. But for the Moreys, their future of boundless privilege is not arriving fast enough. As Cynthia begins to drift, Adam ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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karen
May 11, 2015 karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: firstreads
this is my best goodreads.com win so far. i entered to win this one because i really liked palladio, even though i can't remember anything about it, really. just flashes: advertising, a woman, secrets... but i remember being really impressed with it all those years ago. (someone else should read it and refresh my memory, please)and i have the feeling the same thing will happen to me with this one. it's not that there's no story; although it is more of a character(s) study than a huge event-riddl ...more
Paul Bryant
Dec 24, 2010 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
1) I believe that whatever disasters strike this small blue planet of ours, global warming, a new pandemic, whatever, the rich will not only sail though unaffected, they’ll hardly notice what’s killing the rest of us. They’ll be somewhat put out when they have to replace their domestic staff more frequently because the staff they have keep dying from bird flu or lack of clean water or whatever. But that’s all. The rich are in the process of spinning off into their own sealed world where nothing ...more
B the BookAddict
Mar 13, 2016 B the BookAddict rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction

I mean no offense when I say, what I can't fathom is when people don't like this book – then reveal they actually only don't like the characters. I make this distinction here because a lot of people who didn't really like this novel tend to make very little comment on the actual writing itself. That's probably the art of a great novelist: to present you unlikable characters and yet get you to like the book anyway. I think Jonathan Dee achieves that in this novel.

The Privileges is slick, witty a
...more
Greg
Nov 19, 2009 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Even though it is only November 19th, 2009; I'm going to go on record and say that this book is the best book of 2010. Maybe I will be proven wrong, and I hope that I am, because that other book will be absolutely fucking amazing if it is better than this.

Since none of my fellow goodreaders to date have given this five stars is baffling to me, that some even gave it three stars makes wonder what is wrong with them, I will not judge though.

I hate writing reviews of books I love, I'd much rather
...more
Erin
Jul 15, 2011 Erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Dee opens The Privileges with a wedding and 30 pages of cinematic, voyeuristic, tipsy, sweaty, dizzy, loud, lift-the-flap book-type fun. Sadly, all my literary seratonin was spent in that first chapter, and I was left to nurse a hangover for the remaining 200 pages. This book was enthusiastically endorsed by Jonathan Franzen, Richard Ford, and Tom Perrotta, among others, so I guess I expected to be knocked sideways by the whole thing.

Jonathan Dee gives his characters everything - mind-
...more
Talia Carner
Nov 01, 2011 Talia Carner rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shallow characters and shallow wrting for a thin plot....

I am not in the habit of trashing novels. If I find a work to be less than compelling, I simply do not continue reading. However, this was an assignment for a book group, which forced me to read to the end. I was particularly intrigued since I had noticed the special place the NYT had given this novel in the annals of last year's literary as a "tour de force"--as did some other media outlets.

Therefore, without the risk of destroying Mr.
...more
Abby
The Privileges is a book with an interesting premise and interesting characters. The book bills itself as a intimate look into the rise of a financial tycoon and his family at the beginning of the 21st century and their moral and emotional quandaries.

Jonathan Dee is a gifted writer. He situates the characters in a rarefied social milieu with all of the right signifiers and dialogue. The first chapter reads like an Edith Wharton novel. As Cynthia and Adam prepare for their wedding, you get a sens
...more
Charles Matthews
Dec 04, 2010 Charles Matthews rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been blurbed enough with quotations taken out of the context of my reviews that I know not to put complete faith in blurbs. But when the review copy of this book arrived with blurbs from writers I like, such as Richard Ford ("verbally brilliant, intellectually astute, and intricately knowing") and Jonathan Franzen ("a cunning, seductive novel about the people we thought we'd all agreed to hate"), then I really have to give it a go.

Dee's novel is an exploration -- and sometimes a refutation
...more
KerryH
May 08, 2016 KerryH rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star, favourites
The rich get rich,
and the poor get poorer,
Ain't we got fun?


Warning: Spoiler Alert




There is an Antarctic chill that permeates this novel. It is not a physical chill like that I feel when I read the best of the Scandinavian noir thrillers but more an awareness of the chilling lack of empathy that oozes from the principal characters, Adam and Cynthia Morey. The book opens with the wedding of the golden couple, Adam and Cynthia, and it is a delicious, razor-sharp analysis of the perfect wedding fro
...more
Mark
Aug 25, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maya Lang
Mar 20, 2015 Maya Lang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knew from the first page that I would love this novel. There is a kind of happy relief and immediate pleasure when in the hands of a master, when the prose is gorgeous, the dialogue pitch perfect, the characters vivid and full. Then came the emotional insights, which are piercing. Jonas, age five, loves to collect items but wishes his helicopter mother wouldn't get so involved. When he likes a set of books, "she went out and bought the entire rest of the series, numbers four through sixteen. W ...more
Claire Handscombe
I really liked this until the final fifty pages or so. The ending left me feeling that the author was trying to say something deep - otherwise the ending is just a bit odd - but I couldn't have told you what.
Elyse
Sep 03, 2011 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This little book is AMAZING! I can understand why people reading this book get 'triggered' (mess with your ZEN as , Lori said), but this was one of the best contemporary books I've read in a long time.

Its very well written-bold-intimate-filled with tension -original and intelligent -powerful!


This is a fabulous 'discussion' book (too bad our book club didn't pick this one).

I read a few of the reviews here on Bookreads. (I find all of them worth reading). I happen to like the other 5 star review
...more
Elle
Nov 10, 2009 Elle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dolores Andral
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becca
Apr 08, 2012 Becca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
The conversations about sickness and death near the end of the book scared me so much that even though I was exhausted when I finished it last night I made myself pick up another book and read for a half hour more, to get the feeling of this book out of my head.

Still processing, but my first impulse is to say this was a brilliant book. The characters seem a little unrealistic and flat sometimes, but they all seem to serve a larger purpose. The couple the book is built around are such heinous, u
...more
M
May 16, 2013 M rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am giving this very flawed book three stars because, ultimately, it was very readable (minus a really poor beginning)and occasionally interesting.
But.
This novel is about Cynthia and Adam, a young power couple who marry in the opening and proceed to have two beautiful kids and take on the world. There is no real urgency to this book - in fact, I would retitle it The Red Herrings, because until the book finds it stride (and it takes a while), there are a number of doors that creak open and then
...more
Michael
Aug 07, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On the verge of their wedding night, Adam and Cynthia cannot imagine being apart from each other. While they are young and naive, they are excited that they are going to first step in marriage. Adam thinks that they picked the wrong time to get married,but he is beyond thrilled to spend eternity with his bride to be. Family and friends gather as they celebrate their big day, but Cynthia anxiety gets the best of her. Yet she put on a good impression in front of her peers, knowing that this day do ...more
Esil
Jan 05, 2011 Esil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the New Yorker's best books of 2010. It has a similar sensibility to Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, but I liked it much better--the writing was good, the characters somewhat more complex than stereotypical very rich New Yorkers, and most significantly the story was tighter--until the end. What prevented me from giving it 5 stars was the end. With the exception of the powerful storyline between Cynthia and her dying father, the story just fizzled out.
Lobstergirl
Feb 24, 2011 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A brilliant, pitch-perfect opening chapter sets a high standard that the rest of the book can't quite meet, not because of the writing, but because of character development and narrative arc. The ending is a letdown; we've seen such casual cruelty, heinousness, and violations of the social contract that we expect there to be consequences, but no one is made to pay.
Nicole
Jul 22, 2012 Nicole rated it did not like it
I guess making your characters as plastic as your premise was actually the point of your book; but to hell with it, I read for entertainment.
switterbug (Betsey)
There was very little in this book to scoop me up or draw me in. I thought it was rather banal and ultimately resided in the upper end of the guppy pool. Deeply superficial. It was billed as DeLillo-esque, which is why I wanted to read it. It tanked.

When writing about obscenely rich navel-gazers, it helps to be fresh and original. I enjoy essentially unlikable characters in literature--they are often savagely solipsistic and subversive. Tom Wolfe, Martin Amis and Zoe Heller create self-regarding
...more
Roderick Hart
The subject of this book is the effect of money, in excess, on those who have it, in this case Adam and Cynthia Morey and their children April and Jason. They have money because Adam works at a hedge fund, where he is second-in-command to the boss, who likes him personally and regards him as his heir apparent.

Not content with the vast sums he ‘earns’ at the hedge fund, Adam starts making even more through insider trading. He can only do this safely with the help of others and begins this operat
...more
Kate
Aug 09, 2010 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The next time you're in Barnes & Noble, be sure to pick up this book, curl up in an overstuffed armchair, and read this first chapter. I think it's the most wonderful first chapter I have ever read. ("The band thought it would be pretty punk to tell the hotel management fuck you, but they had another job there next weekend.") It must have been torture to follow this chapter with a whole book, but Jonathan Dee did it pretty well.

Cynthia and Adam Morey lead a charmed life -- soulmates rising
...more
Beth Bonini
While I was reading this novel, I couldn't decide if was going to be a contemporary fairy tale -- or cautionary tale.
The main character has come from very mundane origins, and through a combination of intelligence, steeliness, good looks and discipline, he manages to generate huge wealth -- through insider trading and stock market exploitation. The novel charts his progress, from his young marriage to a beautiful, sharp and rather shallow girl, to his middle age. The only surprising thing about
...more
Holly Lee (Bellas Novella)
At first I wasn't quite sure how I feel about this book. On one hand it has a bit of a The Great Gatsby feel to it, while on the other hand the story seems to blather on with no end in sight, and no real reason to keep me reading. As I continued reading The Privileges I started to see the deeper meaning behind the story, and I was impressed.

The book is about a uber rich family. Adam and Cynthia started out rather humbly, but grew to be very rich and very powerful. With two kids, Jonas and April
...more
Phil
Jun 02, 2010 Phil rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Here's a book by a Columbia professor who, in my estimation, wanted to write a story that would capture the height of the "silly money" nouveau riche of the mid-2000s.

It's a fine idea, in theory. As readable and flowing as Dee's prose is, he's only able to string together a few good moments without actually giving us a compelling plot or characters who were very convincing or interesting.

Adam - a seemingly just-above-average dude who receives the magical ability to make money in the derivatives
...more
Carl R.
May 16, 2012 Carl R. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Here’s another Pulitzer finalist, a well-wrought work, full of interesting characters and situations, that is just not my kind of book. My fault, I know, not Jonathan Dee’s, not the committee’s, but there it is. The Privileges follows the fortunes of an wealthy Manhattan family from parents’ wedding day to a time (purposely vague) that coincides with the late-adolescence/early adulthood of their son and daughter.

This is not as bad as Tinkers (See March 13, 2011) for me, a book which leads from
...more
Freesiab
Feb 22, 2016 Freesiab rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I was going 3 stars until the horrible ending. 2.5 because it was fairly good long periods with no direction but I wanted to be optimistic. The book was in two parts. Without spoilers, them getting rich and them being rich but they are so unrelated. It really wound up being another book about terrible people. It's sad that modern books make a statement on society this way, people being terrible and really not caring. No one ever improving themselves. That sums up this book pretty well. It's ...more
Lauren
May 01, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook
The Privileges was surprisingly excellent. It was the perfect length to tell the story of the Morey family. I loved how the story starts with Cynthia and Adam's wedding. That chapter could be a novella on its own. I was immediately absorbed into the lives of these characters and then later on, I was engrossed with the lives of their two children as well.

The time period is not specified, but a lot of the themes I found very relevant to recent news of the last few years. And of course, the setting
...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Jonathan Dee is the author of six novels. He is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, a frequent contributor to Harper's, and a former senior editor of The Paris Review. He teaches in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University and the New School.
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“The rain made for an odd effect forty floors up, because you didn't get to see it hit anything on the way down, it was just a kind of static in the gray air.” 3 likes
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