Friday, August 1, 2014
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Home | Staff Picks | Non-Fiction Picks | Empty mansions : the mysterious life of Huguette Clark and the spending of a great American fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

Empty mansions : the mysterious life of Huguette Clark and the spending of a great American fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

I admit that I like my non-fiction to “read like fiction”.   I want a story that captures my imagination with facts and fascinating characters.    I want to learn something big about the subject…….

and I want it to be entertaining.

That is a tall order, I know.

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.  is all that and more.

What a story!

When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the nineteenth century with a twenty-first-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades. Though she owned palatial homes in California, New York, and Connecticut, why had she lived for twenty years in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health? Why were her valuables being sold off? Was she in control of her fortune, or controlled by those managing her money?Empty Mansions reveals a complex portrait of the mysterious Huguette and her intimate circle. We meet her extravagant father, her publicity-shy mother, her star-crossed sister, her French boyfriend, her nurse who received more than $30 million in gifts, and the relatives fighting to inherit Huguette’s copper fortune.

Dedman has collaborated with Huguette Clark’s cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the few relatives to have frequent conversations with her. They tell a fairy tale in reverse: the bright, talented daughter, born into a family of extreme wealth and privilege, who secrets herself away from the outside world. ~from the Publisher.

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