The Phantom of Fifth Avenue by Meryl Gordon

Born in 1906, Huguette Clark grew up in her family’s 121-room Beaux Arts mansion in New York and was one of the leading celebrities of her day. Her father William Andrews Clark, was a copper magnate, the second richest man in American, and not above bribing his way into the Senate.

Huguette attended the coronation of King George V. And at twenty-two with a personal fortune of $50 million to her name, she married a Princeton man and childhood friend, William MacDonald Gower. Two years later the couple divorced. After a series of failed romances, Huguette began to withdraw from society–first living with her mother in a kind of Grey Gardens isolation then as a modern-day Miss Havisham, spending her days in a vast apartment overlooking Central Park, eating crackers and watching The Flintstones with only servants for company. All her money and all her real estate could not protect her in her later life from being manipulated by shady hangers-on and hospitals that were only too happy to admit (and bill) a healthy woman. But what happened to Huguette that turned a vivacious, young socialite into a recluse? And what was her life like inside that gilded, copper cage?

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Mrs. Astor Regrets by Meryl Gordon

The fate of Brooke Astor, the endearing philanthropist with the storied name, has generated worldwide headlines since her grandson Philip sued his father, Anthony Marshall, in 2006, alleging mistreatment of Brooke. Shortly after her death in 2007, Anthony was indicted on charges of looting her estate.

New York journalist Meryl Gordon has interviewed not only the elite of Mrs. Astor’s social circle but also the large staff who cared for her during her declining years. The result is the behind-the-headlines story of the Astor empire’s unraveling, filled with never-before-reported scenes. This powerful, poignant saga takes the reader inside the gilded gates of an American dynasty to tell of three generations’ worth of longing and missed opportunities and is filled with secrets of the sort that have engaged Americans from the era of Edith Wharton to the more recent days of Truman Capote. Even in this territory of privilege, no riches can put things right once they’ve been torn asunder. Mrs. Astor Regrets is an American epic of the bonds of money, morality, and social position.

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