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A Season in Purgatory

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  1,825 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
They were the family with everything. Money. Influence. Glamour. Power. The power to halt a police investigation in its tracks. The power to spin a story, concoct a lie, and believe it was the truth. The power to murder without guilt, without shame, and without ever paying the price. America's royalty, they called the Bradleys. But an outsider refuses to play his part. And ...more
ebook, 464 pages
Published February 22nd 2012 by Ballantine Books (first published 1993)
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Petra X smoke fish no cigar
He could really write, Dominick Dunne, couldn't he? I know this was a fictionalised account of the Skakel murder of Martha Moxley, I know the Bradleys were the Kennedys, but still it read, at least in the initial chapters like Waugh's Brideshead. The same shining scion and his shadow, poor but in love and literate. The same feeling of anything was possible, morality was unimportant compared to riches. All that and they were Catholic too.

I advertised for a part-time clerk today. The first person
...more
Jean Marie Angelo
Jul 29, 2013 Jean Marie Angelo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book, as we all know, is a fictionalized version of the Martha Moxley murder. The fictional location of Scarborough Hill, Conn., is really meant to be the tony Belle Haven neighborhood of Greenwich. The murderer, Constant Bradley, is a composite character of Ted Kennedy, Will Smith (a Kennedy cousin accused of rape), and Michael Skakel (the Kennedy cousin who was eventually convicted of Martha's murder).

Martha was killed the night before Halloween in 1975. I was a young teen then and I liv
...more
Jerry
Apr 05, 2008 Jerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is quite a good book in Dominick Dunne's style of taking a true crime and changing the names and a few of the facts so that you still know who it is based on. A Season in Purgatory is based on Kennedy nephew's Michael Skakel's murder of Martha Moxley in the wealthy town of Greenwich, Connecticutt in 1975. The story is told from the point of view of the killers boarding school buddy who was visiting that weekend. The story is about how power and privilege can prolong justice. Years after thi ...more
Mo
Jan 28, 2016 Mo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I decided to read this book because I had just finished watching a documentary about Ann Woodward and remembered that Dominick Dunne had written a fictionalized book based on her life called “The Two Mrs. Grenvilles”. (She, along with several others, makes an appearance in this book too.) Since I had thoroughly enjoyed it, I decided to try this one.

I was not disappointed!

Half the fun of this novel is trying to identify who all the real life players are in this fascinating roman à clef by Dominic
...more
Debbie
Aug 08, 2009 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book grabbed me from the beginning and sucked me into the Bradley's world. I loved the way that Dunne developed each of the characters so that you could see how and why each was unable to stand up to Gerald's tyranny or Grace's religious manipulation. I really wanted to like the Bradley family but they all were dispicable in their own way. The exception was Agnes who was shuttered away in an institution and never discussed by the famiy until Constant needed her for his defense. Everyone in ...more
Joanne
Jun 08, 2008 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heard this book is a fiction story based on the 1975 Martha Moxley murder in Greenwich. That story always fascinated and scared me because I was a teen during that time and realized it could of happened to someone I knew!

The book got off to a slow start, but then the character development and intertwining of the years and lives became very interesting and fascinating. Dunne portrayed the character relationships very well. You wanted to love the Bradleys for their money, power and outwardly perfe
...more
Coco
Mar 27, 2009 Coco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
I read this book a long time ago, but have followed the real-life Skakel murder it was based upon. I'm a faithful reader of Dunne's Vanity Fair dispatches and found the book to be a faithful representation of what allegedly happened in this upscale place. Using money and power the family in the book, and in real life, covered it up and Dunne identities well with the murdered girl's family since his own daughter was killed and her attacker received a slap on the wrist. Well-written, great charact ...more
Brittany
Aug 16, 2012 Brittany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"You're different," said Constant.
"Oh, I hope so," replied Harrison.


"This is a tough guy...I don't mean tough, like in the boxing ring...I mean a tougher kind of tough, like integrity tough."


"If I had it to do over again, would I do what I did? I would like to say, "Oh, yes, yes, yes," but, in truth, I wonder."


"Purgatory is a place for contemplation of what is ahead, for atonement for what is behind, for purification, for expiation. It is a preparation for the sight of God."


"...truth will always
...more
Lori
Jan 03, 2013 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lori by: Joseph
My brother recommended this book to me and at first I didn't like it, but 2 chapters in the drama started. Each chapter sucked me in more. The ending was a surprise and then a double surprise.
Emma
Aug 11, 2016 Emma rated it it was amazing
Nobody does this as well as Dunne. Spectacular, absorbing trash. Loved it.
Marilyn
50 States and at least 50 Authors 2016 Reading Challenge. CONNECTICUT.

My brother recommended this book. I did not know the back story on this book before I started reading it, but it was obvious from the beginning that the book was based on the Kennedy family (large Irish Catholic family, older brother killed during the war, older sister mentally retarded secreted away in an institution, father very controlling, mother concerned primarily with her faith, etc.). The book is actually based on the
...more
Lesley
Mar 22, 2016 Lesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A smoothly written and compelling story of a Family- the Bradleys, and one outsider, the friend who ultimately brings them down. Or does he?
Constant Bradley,the youngest son, all the hopes of the family are pinned on this bright and dazzling young man. But his friend Harrison knows he has a dark side. One night, Harrison becomes involved in an event that will change all their lives forever.
It is so seamlessly put together, written as it is in either 1st Person narrative ( Harrison Burns) or, 3rd
...more
Will
Oct 28, 2015 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Fictional tale based on the true story of a teenage girl murdered by a privileged rich teenage boy (in real life, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy).

Our narrator Harrison is school friends with Constant Bradley and the Bradley Family (i.e. The Kennedy's) and takes us down the rabbit hole of being associated with the elite household through their twisted façade of being the perfect family despite extramarital affairs, abuse, alcoholism, and... murder.

I hated the Bradley's and their smug attitude. Age ol
...more
Stephen Schnabel
Sep 04, 2009 Stephen Schnabel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes a good look at how the wealthy and powerful can get into trouble and come out unscathed. It also shows how some people have their futures mapped out for them with trust funds and high ambitions. One of the most fascinating aspects of this book is how people with enough money and enough charisma can worm their way out of any situation, whether it's something as simple as a parking ticket or a as complex and drastic as a murder. This book is not only great fiction, but it is also a ...more
Kathy
Jul 15, 2008 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a spin off of the Michael Skakel/Kennedy family story. The book emphasizes the role that power and money play in this rich family. The characters are fictional but it's not hard to imagine them as part of the real Kennedy family. GREAT read. And, as an added bonus, Patrick Dempsey played a role in the made for tv movie about this book/Michael Skakel story.

A Season in Purgatory:
In 1993 Dominick Dunne's fictional novel which mirrored the Moxley case, A Season in Purgatory, hit the b
...more
Melinda Elizabeth
Sep 30, 2012 Melinda Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book got me in the mood for Revenge when it comes back on tv in a few days. It has that Hamptons, Grayson feel about it where the rich get away with everything, and the strong patriarch keeps a firm hand on all that happens and who the children turn out to be.

It lagged a little in the middle where it became extremely dull reading, the struggle between doing whats right and whats convenient was a little on the slow side, and Constant became a little two dimensional. I rarely felt th
...more
Cynthia Davidson
Good exploration of just what 'purgatory' is, might be, especially among the so called privileged upper classes.

This book also reveals what happens when your place of purgatory is right here and now in this lifetime, when you don't take a stand, don't stand up for decency, justice or fairness in your own life. When the wife doesn't confront her husband's rotten behaviors - cheating his partners, cheating on her...she ends up with a rotten scoundrel of a son...

If the women don't develop, grow,
...more
Barb
Feb 05, 2010 Barb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barb by: Tom Freeman
Based on the Martha Moxley murder and the public images of the Kennedy clan. The characters are not very well developed and are pretty cliche. I would say they reflect two-dimensional Irish-American Roman Catholic images from someone who had bitter feelings towards the Kennedys. The story and characters ARE interesting, but since they were taken from real situations and were not creatively drawn by the author, this is simply a kudos to the authors ability as a journalist and not as an author. Th ...more
Cecilia
Jul 31, 2008 Cecilia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: crime fiction readers
Shelves: favorites
A fabulous look at what the rich are capable of when it comes to covering up their crimes. Dunne, who is best known as an investigative journalist, really does a great job of capturing high society life...in its heyday and in its downfall. With similarities to the Kennedy family...as well as any wealthy New England family from old money...Dunne’s make-believe family becomes real…we get attached to these people, even though only a very few of us can actually relate to their type of lifestyle. Dun ...more
Candace Rollins
Jan 21, 2016 Candace Rollins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book assuming it was a fictionalized version of the Skakel/Moxley murder, but found it more of a hybrid Kennedy/Skakel and Moxley murder. Even without all the similarities to the families involved in the murder and subsequent trial, it was a real page turner. The juxtapositions of power and desire vs. devout religion ( and the morality it should impose) and love of family were always at odds in this book. I really enjoyed this book.


unfamiliar word

pg. 40 antimacassars: cloth placed
...more
Alyssa
Aug 02, 2008 Alyssa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are from Massachusetts, then you are probably familiar with the Martha Moxley murder trial. Martha Moxly was murdered in 1975 by Kennedy cousin, Michael Skakel. He was finally found guilty in 2002. This book is loosely based on this. I found this book to riveting and very hard to put down.
They eventually made a t.v. movie about it back in 1996, starring Dr. McDreamy (before he was Dr. Mc Dreamy, but still dreamy none the less) as Harrison Burns. Of course the movie didn't come close, but
...more
Jacqueline Selecky Selecky Selecky Selecky
This was a twisted tale about a rich catholic family with secrets that money can hide. It was an accurate description of the arrogant, self-centered, and shallow personalities of people that have had every single thing handed to them. And it really made me think of how many real people are like these characters that commit crimes and write checks to cover them up. The only reason for the three stars was because none of the characters were likable at all.
Kristi
Aug 23, 2007 Kristi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book started me on two paths of interest. The first was the Martha Moxley murder mystery from the 1970s and its loose Kennedy connection and the other was the works of Dunne.
I read all I could get my hands on about the Moxley case and followed the reopening of the case and subsequent trial.
Dunne's work I read as it comes and started a subscription to Vanity Fair to read his articles there. He has an intersting voice to his work and covers subjects across the Pop Culture landscape.
Iulia
Oct 25, 2010 Iulia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast read. Interesting and intriguing, however by the end it became a bit repetitive.
Book is about a very rich and large Catholic family on the East Coast in the 1970s. The patriarch of the family wanted his 8 children to infiltrate politics and rise to greatness. However, one of them is a murderer. The book describes the great lengths all family members go through to cover for their criminal family member.
A lot of characters and a lot of action.
Connie
First book of Dominick....this was wonderful.....I so...recommend reading all of his....

If you're not familar with who Dominick is...he was a reporter for Vanity Fair for many years...most of his books...are inspired by actual cases riped out of the current events...the OJ Simpson case, His own daughter was murdered...many others....All of his books are a must...in my opinion...He always added a twist as he told the story in his version....Enjoy!

Violet
Sep 25, 2008 Violet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Florists
Recommended to Violet by: the library
Things I have learned from reading Dominick Dunne:

1. Rich people do not laugh. They "roar with laughter."

2. Rich women wear gold barrettes to hold back their hair. They greet people they don't care for by saying "Hellohowareyou," which is somehow different from "Hello, how are you?"

3. Rich people pay off judges in order to escape prosecution.

4. It is so terribly, terribly lonely, this business of being rich.
Katie
Nov 17, 2008 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book was excellent - it is a thinly veiled novel of the Kennedy's - I do not believe in curses and selling your soul to the devil but if this was ever done in my lifetime it was done by Joe Kennedy - the price this family has paid for "power" is extraordinary

daughter with a lobotomy
2 son's assasinated
# of accidents that killed grandchildren
a son who murdered a woman

where ever Joe Kennedy is his family is still paying the price for the pact he made
Sera
Nov 10, 2007 Sera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-fiction, own
I enjoy reading Dunne's books, because of his novels are based on real life people and their experiences, including his. This book is based upon Dunne's youth and his relationship with a boy who comes from a very wealthy family. The book shows that money doesn't always bring happiness, as evidenced by the question of whether Dunne's friend committed a murder of a neighborhood girl. This book is very well-written and a solid read.
Dianne Landry
Feb 27, 2014 Dianne Landry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book years ago but picked it up again as a break from my nonfiction Christmas presents.

It is a fictionalized version of the Martha Moxley murder case and of the Kennedy family. I won't go into details because everyone knows the story but I will say that this is an enjoyable but sordid look into the lives of the rich and powerful. I love Dominick Dunne's books.
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Dominick Dunne was an American writer and investigative journalist whose subjects frequently hinged on the ways high society interacts with the judiciary system. He was a producer in Hollywood and is also known from his frequent appearances on television.

After his studies at Williams College and service in World War II, Dunne moved to New York, then to Hollywood, where he directed Playhouse 90 and
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