Saturday, December 27

Hole in Pocket

Today, while listening to NPR, I heard an interview with Meryl Gordan. She was speaking of her new book titled Miss Astor Regrets. It's the story of the end of Brooke Astor's long life. Do you remember, a couple of years back, the shocking story of elder abuse she suffered in her last years at the hands of her son? Well, Ms Gordan has written all about it. It sounded fascinating and I happened to have a big juicy gift certificate to my favorite book store burning a hole in my pocket. I immediately planned a trip to the book store and Mom accompanied me.

I eventually decided against Miss Astor Regrets because it's a hardback and costs $35. I'm not a fan of hardbacks. While they remain durable they are difficult to lug around on planes and are overpriced so I avoid them.

I was in the mood for a good read on a crazy family. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE to read about rich, crazy families both old and new. (Thank God and Graydon Carter for Vanity Fair). The Tudor's are a favorite of mine with the Romanov's running a close second. I've been hearing good things about the Vanderbilt's... they were good and crazy. I was looking for a book called The Vanderbilt Women because the back cover states "The nearest thing to a royal family that has ever appeared on the American scene was the Vanderbilts … their vendettas, their armies of servitors, partisans and sycophants, their love affairs, scandals, and shortcomings, all were the stuff of an imperial routine." SOLD! Unfortunately I couldn't find that one but I'll pick it up eventually. Instead I picked up Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt. It looks good. I'm not sure how scandalous it will be but Consuelo was a suffragette, romantically linked to Winston Churchill and lived during the Gilded Age and that's always a good time.

Of course I still haven't read The Sisters (all about the Mitfords), or the incredibly cool sounding The Heretic's Daughter (Salem Witch Trials anyone?) and about 300 other books I have in boxes in the garage. Still, I can't stop buying books, I just love them. I have a feeling that I'll be so poor when I eventually buy my house that I'll have nothing better to do than to be a shut in with my books. The idea really doesn't sound all that bad does it?

On the way home Mom and I were discussing long lost favorite library books that we enjoyed ages ago and never saw again. Mom's favorite is something called Tales From New Orleans. Each chapter was about an eccentric New Orleans resident. It sounds a bit like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil but without the story weaving everyone together. My favorite was a now nameless book Mom borrowed for the Monrovia library back in the 70's. Like any good mother of the 70's she didn't pay much attention to what I read... thank God. It was a book all about the most notorious crimes int he past 100 years and I loved it. I picked the book up after she finished it and learned all about the Lindbergh kidnapping, Lizzie Borden and Jack the Ripper. To my 10 year old mind it I was the greatest book written.

I have other books to keep an eye out for that also feature rich crazy families. Here are a few and why I like the sound of them:

Murder of a Medici Princess
"The third of eight surviving children... life apart from her debt-ridden, abusive, playboy husband in Rome... Eager to make his mistress... banished her lover from Florence by branding him a murderer... treasonous behavior... extramarital affairs... murder at her husband's hands and, soon after, Isabella's murder by her husband as well. ." I know it's wrong but I just love this stuff. Besides who else managed to get Michelangelo to do up the family tomb?

The Vanderbilts
"Nearly 250 pictures reveal the striking personalities of this extraordinary family and the glittering interiors in which they led their fabled lives." I enjoy photos when reading biographies. I feel I know the subject better if I have a face in mind. Also, can you ever tire of looking at the The Biltmore?

Queen of Diamonds
"The last and longest private owner of the Hope Diamond, purchased the diamond when she was only twenty-four; spent more than $200,000 on a fabulous honeymoon and ended up in a Paris hotel without enough money to pay the bill; wandered the gloomy rooms of her home imagining crawling reptiles while overcoming her morphine addiction; and stood in the rain wearing a fur coat and clutching the Hope Diamond as her beloved Washington Post was auctioned. The deep indigo stone is but a single facet of her rags-to-riches story." *gasp* SIGN ME UP!!

If you know of any good books on rich crazy families please let me know. The crazier and more scandalous the better!

1 comment:

shandon said...

Reversal of Fortune by Alan Dershowitz. Sunny von Bulow, the "star" of this saga, just died a few weeks ago, still in her coma.