This extraordinary debut novel is a contemporary American tragedy of breathtaking scope: a story of pharmaceutical drug trials and Wall Street corruption; of pride and prejudice; of paranoia and office politics; of inheritance, influence, class, and power.

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Cecilia Somner, a larger-than-life heir to a robber baron’s fortune, once known for her cruel wit as much as for her tremendous generosity, 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. 

As her troubled son George and his outsider wife Iris struggle to resolve mounting financial and familial troubles, CeCe must face the Somner dynasty's dark legacy; all three must learn what life beyond the long, shimmering shadow cast by the family's past may become. But when George's secrets culminate in a life-changing turn of fate, no riches can put things right for the unfortunate Somners. 

The Unfortunates, hilarious and heartbreaking by turns, is most of all a meditation on love: as delusional obsession, as transformation, and ultimately as a coming to grace.



A big, chewy novel written with comic panache and an infectious tenderness toward the blunders of its heroes. The Unfortunates is both a mirror on the income inequality of the current moment and a social novel in the old, grand, plotty mode: voracious for detail and punctuated by gasp-inducing turns of fate. Its subjects are money and the people unfortunate enough to have it. Who knew the rich deserved so much to be pitied?
— Salvatore Scibona, The End