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Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  1,244 Ratings  ·  235 Reviews
The fate of Brooke Astor, the endearing philanthropist with the storied name, has generated worldwide headlines since her grandson Philip sued his father in 2006, alleging mistreatment of Brooke. And shortly after her death in 2007, Anthony Marshall, Mrs. Astor's only child, was indicted on charges of looting her estate. Rarely has there been a story with such an appealing ...more
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Published January 19th 2009 by Tantor Media (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Those East Coast heiresses of Gilded Age wealth. I just can't get enough of their life stories, squandered wealth, unhappy lives, and complicated family ties. No matter how badly my life may be going, I remember that the simple life can be worth more than American Excess. This book joins the pantheon of similar lives, such as Barbara Hutton (Poor Little Rich Girl: Life and Legend of Barbara Hutton), the Beales (Edith Bouvier Beale of Grey Gardens: A Life in Pictures), Gloria Vanderbilt (Little G ...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
This isn't the story about the Astor family and its fortune I want to hear. This is about elderly abuse and neglect, a gross, shameful injustice against a poor 100 year old Alzheimer's patient. Shoots to close to home.
Dec 27, 2013 Nicholas rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Fresh on the heels of reading about Huguette Clark and her many millions and even more eccentricities in Empty Mansions, I decided to read Mrs. Astor Regrets. I guess I was on a New York society heiress/possible elder abuse kick. This reader regrets that Mrs. Astor Regrets was actually a bit of a slog. I think the problem, aside from the fact that Meryl Gordon is a clunky writer, is also that she relied too much on the newsworthiness of her subjects and forgot occasionally to tell an interesting ...more
Feb 10, 2014 Terri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
The title is telling. Mrs. Astor Regrets is not so much about her fascinating life of people, power, and position as it is about greed and money substituting for love.

"Her ability to dispense millions made her powerful and popular" and it also made her prey.

Brooke Astor's son from her first marriage, Tony Marshall, is a man to be pitied. Brooke never wanted him from the start and he was always a reminder to her of her wretched first marriage. She could not separate the two. And there is poor Ton
Mar 16, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer by: The New York Times
Shelves: non-fiction
This book just made me sad--first, for Brooke Astor's son, Tony Marshall, who seemed to live his entire life trying to get his mother to love him and then, for Brooke Astor herself, who spent the last ten years or so of her life in a slow decline that all the money in the world couldn't remedy. The book was well-researched and Gordon seems to have snagged interviews with everyone who ever spoke to Brooke Astor--but I wished she had devoted a little more time to the early lives of Brooke Astor an ...more
Kathleen Gilroy
Mar 05, 2009 Kathleen Gilroy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Schadenfreude to the max. Woe to the society grande dame who ignores her only son and lives to be 105. Woe to the son who consciously or unconsciously gets her back by firing her staff and leaving her to fester on a dog-urine stained couch in her palatial Park Avenue apartment. Woe to the grandson who decides that his father and her scheming third wife must be removed as guardians. Detailed, super-juicy account of one of the big society page scandals of the last decade. Highly recommend, if you ...more
Don Trowden
Nov 20, 2015 Don Trowden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book found its way onto my bedside table and was a highly entertaining and well-researched read. The book's organization and the high quality of the writing make it rise above other similar works. I felt the author was being fair to all the players, which is why at the end it came across as a modern-day tragedy, where all lost more than they had bargained for. Anyone who has dealt with or is dealing with an elderly parent, memory loss, and inheritance of any size should relate to this very ...more
Tanya W
May 13, 2010 Tanya W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
More like 3 1/2 stars. In some ways the book seems like a gossipy, inside view of a wealthy family and their troubles. I listened to this on CD while cleaning and doing laundry. I thought the reader and the book went well together.

I found it to be very interesting, and ultimately a very good read because of the lessons to be learned. It is actually heartbreaking that Anthony Marshall was mothered the way he was... it's sad that a woman who was such an amazing philanthropist helped create a son w
May 12, 2009 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Like a loaf of sourdough bread baked at 200 degrees for 3 minutes, this book took a lot of preparation but is still a half-baked mess. Did author Meryl Gordon accidentally publish her interview notes rather than her biography manuscript? She tiptoed through the war zone of upper East Side's society so carefully that the book could be called "Mrs. Astor Regrets: How to Write About Scandal Without Offending Anyone." I glimpsed the glamorous world of Mrs. Astor, but as through a scrim -- she is sti ...more
The rich are different - this we know. They also seem to lead lives of banality, musty furniture, uninspired doggie names, and disregard for healthy emotional lives. This oddly adjective packed reportial style book kept my interest throughout as the case against a son by a grandson in the name of a grandmother came to verdict. How these richie rich rich richies can find friends in their claustrophobic world is beyond me. Trust does not seem to come easily among them. Money,itself, can be a curse ...more
Jun 24, 2016 Chrisolu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars I would like to know what Miss Astors first will looked like.
Kimberly Paulson
Aug 07, 2014 Kimberly Paulson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
only negative in a well researched and even handed account is that the book ends without the final outcomes of both the criminal trial and the estate disbursement.
Sarah Beth
Born Roberta Brooke Russell in 1902, Brooke Astor became renowned as a philanthropist after her third marriage to Vincent Astor. After five years of marriage, Vincent died, leaving Brooke with "a famous surname, an intense desire for liberation from a claustrophobic existence, and a trust fund of more than $60 million" (7). With multiple homes and staff of 42, Brooke was friends with presidents and royalty and such well known names as de la Renta, Rockefeller, and Barbara Walters. Her charm, soc ...more
Linda Lipko
Clare Boothe Luce noted "Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable." Her quote certainly can be applied to the life of Mrs. Brooke Astor.

Her first marriage, at the young age of 19, to wealthy Dryden Kusher netted a son and a many beatings by this alcoholic man with a violent temper. When he left Brooke for another women, soon thereafter she married wealthy Charles Marshall. She was 50 when he died. Six months later, she received a proposal by
Sep 30, 2012 ~*Kim*~ rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Brooke Astor was New York royalty. Marrying into one of the richest families in the world, she inherited the Astor name late in life and soon made a name for herself as a powerful, yet approachable New York philanthropist. Like most New York socialites, her life was not without drama and scandal. Brooke only had one son, and we soon discover that Tony feels quite entitled to his mother’s millions, even though he is not an Astor by blood. Tony has 2 sons of his own, who only get to know their gra ...more
Jul 07, 2014 Graceann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in protecting the elderly
Shelves: biography
This is a classic example of money not being able to protect you from predators.

Brooke Astor lived a very long and storied life. She had funds, but that didn't help her escape the things that so many women face. Her first husband beat her, her second husband (whom she referred to as the love of her life) died suddenly, and she married her final husband, Vincent Astor, because, as she stated plainly, he could protect her financially.

After Vincent Astor's death, Brooke Astor blossomed. She worke
Molly Mccarty
The prologue is a jumble of events hinting at future details of a New Yolk Socialite Mother and Philanthropist, and her unfortunate relationship with her son. Following this is a hodge podge of Society names involved in her life. Next follows the fleshed out story of a woman, Brooke Astor, her life and her unseemly end of life conditions. She declines in health at age 101. Her son and daughter in law contribute in diminishing her fortune against her wishes at this time. Her grandson, previously ...more
Dec 13, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach by Meryl Gordon is the story of the end of the Astor family fortune and the sad end to the life of a great philanthropist.

Brooke Astor did not lead a fairy tale life, but she had brilliant moments of excitement, great leadership, good friends and a terribly sad family life. A tragic first marriage ended in divorce, a second marriage (which provided her only child) to the love of her life ended in tragedy and then her final, su
Mar 22, 2009 Judith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike many famous wealthy people, Mrs. Astor appears to have devoted most of her time and most of her millions to investing in charitable and artistic organizations and projects. Her philanthropy was simply incredible and she seems like she was an interesting character as well. However, as a mother, she was a total flop. She ignored her only son, to devote time to socializing and taking care of her 3rd husband, Vincent Astor. She allowed her husband to fire the nanny, who had the only close rel ...more
Feb 03, 2010 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not enough material for a book and it reads like the magazine article it was (not that that's necessarily a bad thing per say, but for some reason I picked up on the fact that it was a magazine article before it was anything else).

What's more, the author does this incredibly odd thing of inserting herself into the narrative ever ever so slightly (and maybe this is the "magaziney" thing I was picking up on?). Specifically she'll cite an interview she conducted and write something like: "Blah bla
E Wilson

I thought this was a biography of Brooke Astor, but it was an account of the last decade
or so of her life when she suffered from Alzheimers and her son, Tony, and his Wife, Charlene
started to dip into his inheritance in advance. Then they got greedier and amended her will to
benefit themselves instead of the charities which had originally been the primary beneficiaries.
Although the treatment of his mother by Tony sounds truly despicable, I can't help but
think to some extent turnabout is fair p
What a pitiful, sorry tribe!! Mrs. Brooke Astor was a wonderful philantropist, but a really inconsistent mother. Her only son, Tony Marshall, was protrayed as damaged from the start with slights and bursts of warmth. Brooke had endless charm for society's darlings, but was totally confusing for her son who seemed to long for her attention and love. When he left his wife to marry Charlene (their minister's wife), he become more difficult than ever to love. The two women made each other crazy.

Dec 31, 2008 Roger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book gripping and a sorry tale of predators trying to feast on the wealthy elderly. It is hard to believe Mrs. Astor was taken advantage of by her son and attorneys. The attorneys know better and should have displayed a moral outrage and a strong show of ethics at the requests and actions of Tony Marshall. But in the ned it is all about the money. Her grandson Phillip showed the requist courage to take a stand and although he may be sorry about the unintended consequeces, he did the ...more
Judy Blachek
I don't read a lot of true crime/legal thrillers so perhaps I am not the best reviewer. That said, I felt a bit voyeuristic and creepy YET still somehow fascinated at this sad family drama. I'm not sure I liked Mrs. Astor, and I definitely did not like her son and his wife. Mrs. Astor lived a life of privilege and power and used that power to sometimes divide people. The fact that many of her staff were loyal to her is at least a good indication that she must have treated them well and they did ...more
Shellie Fry
Mar 17, 2010 Shellie Fry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meryl Gordon did a fabulous job writing this book in a completely neutral tone. Given the subject matter, any author could easily have chosen sides and presented the case for them. Ms. Gordon remained level headed and gave a play by play thoroughly investigated view from all sides, giving the reader the option to form their own opinion. In a writing symposium I attended, the speaker stressed that in writing you must "TRUST" your reader. Invest in your story without forcing your opinion or elabor ...more
Jan 11, 2009 Jen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
NPR: Five Books to Give Yourself

Brooke Astor was charming, witty, infinitely generous and as much a part of New York City as the stone lions on the steps of the public library (a building that was one of Astor's favorite beneficiaries). The widow of pedigreed multimillionaire Vincent Astor, she was unfailingly attentive to her guests — especially male ones — and remained a huge flirt well into her 100th year. But by her own admission, Astor hadn't been so great as a mother to her only child. Mer
This is a behind-the-scenes account of the scandal sparked when the grandson of world-famous philanthropist Brooke Astor sued his father for neglecting to properly care for his grandmother. Gordon (New York magazine) conducted 230 interviews for the book and interweaves Astor family history with insights provided by Astor's family, friends, caregivers, and servants. Shortly after Astor's death, Tony Marshall, her 83-year-old son, was indicted on 18 counts of grand larceny, falsifying business re ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Mrs. Astor Regrets: the hidden betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach , by Meryl Gordon, narrated by Lorna Raver, downloaded from, produced by Tantor Media.

This basically is a sad story of an heiress who, while known and loved for her generosity to charities and the arts, was fairly distant to her own child, did not treat him very well, but expected him to look after her, including keeping track of her money. When her son married for the third time, his wife started influencing him to
Nancy Little
May 29, 2009 Nancy Little rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this one day when I was volunteering at the library (OK... I know that might sound odd. I don't normally do that.) and enjoyed the preface so much that I had to request it from my library. I was so engrossed in the story that I couldn't put it down. I finished it in 3 days - speed reading for me! Surprising to me was the fact that Mrs. Astor was a huge supporter of the New York Public library. She was very involved in its resurrection in the early '80s and continued to serve as ...more
Michele Weiner
A quick and not-too-detailed account of the death of Brooke Astor. I wouldn't recommend it to a serious reader. Mrs. Astor was probably not the best mother and grandmother, though there aren't enough facts to make a judgement. Her son, over 80 by the time she died at 105, helped himself a little bit to money she wasn't intending to give him. He was not an Astor, having been born from her first marriage to an abusive alcoholic. When she began to deteriorate (Alzheimer's), son Tony stepped in and ...more
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