Wicks invests great empathy and compelling detail in her portrait of a princeling who bristles at donning a crown. George stammers, bristles at his father and cousin’s ideas of strength, cocks up his bar exam, and consults for long dialogue scenes with a therapist who is eager to emphasize the story’s themes: “Are you feeling trapped in some notion of who someone has said you should be and you’ve been found wanting?” The Leibnitz milieu of globe-straddling wealth is persuasive and alluring, even as George considers bucking it. Still, as Wicks teases out a succession of secrets and betrayals and private-jet excursions, she keeps her focus on George and Marianne’s hearts.
The relationships among the ensemble cast are interesting, with family members scheming, sometimes cruelly, for power. Revelations, confrontations, and fractious meetings and soirees power the novel’s compelling back half, as a true villain emerges, but the set-up chapters tend to showcase characters talking about the themes and relationships rather than dramatize them. Still, fans of the fiction of dynasties will find much here that’s lively, surprising, and ultimately hopeful.
Takeaway: A young man dares to find himself and fall in love in the face of his scheming wealthy family.
Great for fans of: Cristina Alger’s The Darlings, Susan Rieger’s The Heirs.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A