In this "brilliant social satire of life among the 1 percent of the 1 percent" (The Washington Post), Sophie McManus presents a contemporary American tragedy of breathtaking scope. The Unfortunates is the story of a wealthy family coming to terms with how their privilege and entitlement means nothing in the face of an uncaring universe.
A larger-than-life heiress to a rubber baron’s fortune, once known for her cruel wit as much as for her tremendous generosity, Cecilia Somner is now in opulent decline. Afflicted with a rare disease and touched by mortality for the first time, her gilded, bygone values collide with an unforgiving present.
Now, along with her troubled son, George, and his working-class wife, Iris, CeCe must face the Somners’ dark legacy and the corrupting nature of their fortune. As the family struggles to cope with their rising misfortunes, the secrets and lies between matriarch, son, and daughter-in-law grow entangled. CeCe’s condition topples her world, giving her a glimpse at how the rest of society deals with disaster, changing her perspectives on medical marijuana, physical and mental illnesses, housing crises, and LGBTQ families. But her realizations come too late as the Somners are besieged by a startling turn of events as unforgettable as it is unexpected.
While no riches can put things right for the unfortunate Somners, when all is lost they learn what life beyond the long, shimmering shadow cast by their dynasty may become.
"A strong, gripping debut" (Entertainment Weekly), The Unfortunates is a hilarious and heartbreaking novel about a prominent family on the edge of ruin and a meditation on love as delusional obsession, as transformation, and ultimately as a coming to grace.
"A modern-day Edith Wharton."—RON CHARLES, The Washington Post
"McManus is a talented, intelligent writer, and the story is as well-paced as a good thriller."—MOIRA HODGSON, The Wall Street Journal
"A wonderfully precise and subtle?not to mention unexpectedly moving?take on the assumptions and beleaguerments that go with great wealth."—DAPHNE MERKIN, The New Yorker
Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and Longlisted for the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize
A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year and a New York Times Book Review Paperback Row Pick
Named a Must-Read by Entertainment Weekly, Time, New York Observer, Time Out (New York), Bloomberg Businessweek, Travel + Leisure, and Paste magazine
McManus's first novel is a biting satire of the idle rich. Cecilia "CeCe" Somner, a rubber industry heiress in her 70s, enters an experimental clinical trial to cure her Parkinson's-like tremors. While she is away, her troubled adult son, George, spends his time writing the libretto for a dystopian opera. When he can't find anyone to produce it, he tells his wife, Iris, a onetime punk musician, that he will raise the money on his own. His sister lives in Rio with her architect wife and refuses to visit CeCe because she is pregnant and they are estranged. As CeCe goes through her clinical trial, George neglects his job working for an arts foundation in order to finish his opera. Unfortunate choices are made, with terrible repercussions for CeCe, George, and Iris that perhaps not even vast sums of money can rectify. The author writes with subtle wit about the culturally isolated 1% and sends up the gargoyle-esque CeCe, who is out of step with contemporary society. This leaves readers to identify with Iris, the outsider to this world of incredible, indecent privilege. Only near the end does McManus falter in asking us to see the fates visited upon her characters as tragic. Despite this, she has found a new way to dramatize Fitzgerald's oft-quoted statement, "The rich are different from you and me."
Yet another acclaimed book that is just blah!
Boring, pointless, smug and anything but humorous. Don't get me wrong, I love books, enjoy reading literature. But the spate of these so-called books of the year are so disappointing!