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 America, and not above bribing his way into the Senate.
Huguette attended the coronation of King George V. And at 22, 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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Amazing story about a lovely lady...
How money corrupts
I enjoyed hearing about Huguettes life during the major events of the 20th Century. She lived to be nearly 105 so she saw and experience major changes.
The narrator was good - easy to listen to.
No, it was a book which I needed to have breaks from to absorb the information. The chronology of the story is rather confusing as it goes from one era to the next then back again. I also found myself needing to think about Huguettes life, and the psychology of why she became a recluse - we are not given any conclusions as to why she lived like she did. It is left to the reader to make their own interpretation. It triggered lots of emotions in me and I needed time to reflect.
A wonderful story. The only hesitation I had with this book is that Huguette clearly wanted to live a private life. She never wanted to be a 'society girl', she was shy and hated being photographed or her life publicised. This made me feel a little uncomfortable about her life being dissected - albeit in sensitive and thoughtful way. This book made me think about the importance of childhood and how money cannot buy self esteem nor security that we need to be happy.
- Deborah Wyman