Category Archives: The Fortunate Ones

Review: The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington

Title: The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Genre: Historical (’80s), Southern Fiction, Coming of Age
Length: 315 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


When Charlie Boykin was young, he thought his life with his single mother on the working-class side of Nashville was perfectly fine. But when his mother arranges for him to be admitted as a scholarship student to an elite private school, he is suddenly introduced to what the world can feel like to someone cushioned by money. That world, he discovers, is an almost irresistible place where one can bend—and break—rules and still end up untarnished. As he gets drawn into a friendship with a charismatic upperclassman, Archer Creigh, and an affluent family that treats him like an adopted son, Charlie quickly adapts to life in the upper echelons of Nashville society. Under their charming and alcohol-soaked spell, how can he not relax and enjoy it all—the lack of anxiety over money, the easy summers spent poolside at perfectly appointed mansions, the lavish parties, the freedom to make mistakes knowing that everything can be glossed over or fixed?

But over time, Charlie is increasingly pulled into covering for Archer’s constant deceits and his casual bigotry. At what point will the attraction of wealth and prestige wear off enough for Charlie to take a stand—and will he?

The Fortunate Ones is an immersive, elegantly written story that conveys both the seductiveness of this world and the corruption of the people who see their ascent to the top as their birthright.


The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington is a riveting coming of age novel set in Nashville, TN.

Raised by his single mother, Bonnie, Charlie Boykin’s father died in Vietnam before he was born. He and his mom live with his cousin in an impoverished part of Nashville.  His mother works as a cocktail waitress and money is extremely tight. But his life drastically changes when Bonnie secures Charlie a scholarship to a private school.  He is befriended by Archer “Arch” Creigh and Charlie is suddenly thrust into a world of wealth and privilege.  With his future secure, will Charlie continue to enjoy the life to which he has grown  accustomed?

Having never known any other life, Charlie is happy living with Bonnie and her cousin Sunny. He is best friends with Terrence Robie, who protects him from bullies.  Charlie is a good student who stays out of trouble so he is surprised when Bonnie moves him to the private school. He continues living in the poor section of town while going to a posh school and hanging out with wealthy friends.  But when Bonnie begins working for one of his friend’s family, they move into her new boss’s carriage house. Now living a very comfortable life, Charlie leaves his humble beginnings behind.

After graduation, Charlie’s life takes a drastic turn and he starts a new life far away from TN.  Making a name for himself as an artist, he is living with friends when Arch suddenly reappears in his life. Afterward, Charlie is drawn back into the wealthy life he ran away from ten years earlier.  At first supporting Arch’s rise in politics, Charlie again considers walking away once he realizes Arch’s political ambition is more important than his principles.

The Fortunate Ones is an engrossing novel with an interesting storyline. Charlie is a complex man who is quite introspective once he is much older. The plot is engaging and readers will find it easy to become entangled in Charlie’s world. With some unexpected twists and turns,  Ed Tarkington brings this well-written and enthralling novel to a thought-provoking conclusion. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this multi-layered novel to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Algonquin Books, Coming of Age, Ed Tarkington, Rated B+, Review, Southern Fiction, The Fortunate Ones