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The Two Mrs. Grenvilles

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,459 ratings  ·  100 reviews
When Navy ensign Billy Grenville, heir to a vast New York fortune, sees showgirl Ann Arden on the dance floor, it is love at first sight. And much to the horror of Alice Grenville--the indomitable family matriarch--he marries her. Ann wants desperately to be accepted by high society and become the well-bred woman of her fantasies. But a gunshot one rainy night propels Ann ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published 1985)
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The first Mrs. Grenville is a triplet from the kind of family that the painter John Singer Sargent captured in portrait. The newly-minted Mrs. Grenville is a former showgirl from a small town in Kansas, lying about her age, sexual and marital history. Dominick Dunne's novel The Two Mrs. Grenvilles chronicles a fictional tug-of-war between these characters, based on a factual tug-of-war between the characters on which they are based.

I love Dominick Dunne, whom I affectionately refer to as "that
quasi-fictional book, this is a delicious story about the higher echelons of New York society in the 1940's and 50's. It was inspired by the real life of Ann and William Woodward, and William's murder in 1955 by his wife.The fun of this book is the insider view of those high society circles. Dunne, a writer for Vanity Fair, dishes about these folks with a giggle and takes great pleasure at exposing them and their snobbish ways. The main focus is Ann Grenville (Woodward), social climber extraord ...more
Jul 27, 2008 Gillian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with jewels
Recommended to Gillian by: Neva
Ah, Dominick Dunne, you never disappoint! At the end of this book, I decided that I hated both Mrs. Grenvilles. Actually, I hated almost everyone in this book, with the exception of Billy's childhood friend, but I can't remember what that guy's stupid nickname was. Anyway, DD is great because he writes books about people who have basically no redeeming qualitites, and yet, you are hooked. This makes me want to re-read A Season In Purgatory, which I think is his best one!
Our book club decided to read The Two Mrs. Grenvilles upon learning of Dominick Dunne's recent passing. I just finished it, and found it a total, trash, page turner. I'm sure it is based on actual events, as Dunne was a wanna be in the upper class NYC scene, and he has a well-known fascination for crime, and the wealthy's ability to "get away with it." The characters in this story are, sadly, spoiled, mostly amoral, and sadly negligent parents, but I found it hard to put down. Immediately read t ...more
After reading this book and "People Like Us" I FINALLY understand why I love Dominick Dunne so much--reading his books is like watching amazingly awful reality TV.

There I said it. Guilty as charged. Also, who can resist dialogue like this:

"It's Junior sowing his wild oats. He'd never marry her."
"How can you be so sure?"
"She pronounces the 't' in 'often.' "
Connie Hodges
This book was impossible for me to put down. The story of how Ann Grenville, former show girl turned society wife and Alice Grenville, aristocratic mother-in-law to Anne interacted over time is fascinating.
The book centers mainly on Ann, the outrageous firebrand who so wanted to be accepted into society and then ruined her life and the lives of many others with her violently unbalanced behavior.
As much as Ann's detestable and selfish behavior made me want to hate her, Dunne did a fantastic job o
Reminded me a bit of "American Eve" another "crime of the century" however this woman shot her husband for spite rather than abuse as Florence Evelyn Nesbit did.

That aside this is based on true events, told from a reporters point of view. I wish Dunne had a better name for him, Basil Plant, really, although there maybe something to read into that name. This is a fun, gossipy, mindless novel about a woman (a gasp show girl from rural Kansas) trying desperately to social climb in the NY Society of
The narration is on point, a quiet, well told story that creeps up on you. I was expecting something else however, because of the title, more interaction between the 2 Mrs Grenvilles. The book slowed down tremendously in the last 50 pages or so. I found myself wanting to finish. But due to the peek inside NYC society and the attention to detail, and how it made me feel like I was gossiping with the girls over tea, I gave it a 4.
Are there really people like this? I'm afraid there are, but I don't know any. Reading Dominick Dunne is like watching great bad TV. It's better, because the writer creates an intimacy that TV cannot provide. This is the story of a beautiful poor girl, Ann, who is determined to climb up to the highest social level in NYC and beyond. She meets an innocent rich boy and they marry despite his family's horror. It works for a while. But Ann's goal is to become as refined, dignified, and commanding as ...more
Not my favorite Dominick Dunne book. Although, it features my favorite aspects in a Dominick Dunne tale: rich people, sass, pill-popping, affairs, craziness, and murder! Murder!!!

It's the tale of a lovely dancing lady with the most amazing rack known to man (allegedly) who marries a rich guy before he goes off to war..She's from the wrong side of the tracks but becomes a lovely pill-popping New York society lady, and then kills her husband. Somehow, this is also a fun read.
It's not that the writing is bad - I didn't think about the writing or characterization - so both were good. I just did not like a single character in any part of this story. I don't care that anybody got shot, or if there was a reason. I'm just not interested in someone else's money and snobbery. I admitted to myself I was only finishing this book because I started it on my reading challenge. So there's my bit of snobbery.
Bec Sachse
Running out of things to read, I picked this book out of a dusty bookshelf at a hostel - and I'm glad I did! Even though the reader is made aware of the main characters demise straight away, you are compelled to read on to get a glimpse of New York's high society in the early-mid 20th century.

It's all about romance, glamour, gossip and scandal - tonight on 'Power, Privilege and Justice'. I feel like I've heard this before.... It did remind me a lot of one of the cases Dominick Dunne covered on
They say you cant make this stuff up, and he didn't have thanks to the murder mid-century in the Woodward family. I love the way Dunne's character is Truman Capote. I loved comparing the facts online with the novel . Good read and probably not that unusual of a story in the fame vs. shame category. Not a pretty portrayal of the female persona, young or old.
Kristina Leonard
The first of many Dominick Dunne books I've read---like most of his books, this one was inspired by real people and a Truman Capote like figure reveals the sordid details of notorious gun "accident" where a wealthy man was accidentally shot to death by his social-climbing wife. Dunne's books are most readable and often quite fun.
I was really sad to learn that Dominick Dunne had died because I always enjoyed his articles and his views on the court system. So I thought I should read his best seller. I got sucked into all the lives and the fact that it was based on a true story made it even better. It's not a great work of art but a fun read.
Thoroughly enjoyable tale of New York's snobby rich & upper classes in the 1940's. Dunne is fantastic at dialogue, very little scene-setting -characters are revealed by their talk.
I read this book probably 15 years ago! I really liked it while hating many of the characters! I do enjoy Dominick Dunne's writing....great summer read.
Dominck Dunne is one of my favorites for deliciously bad weathly people. He can really skewer them.
Another good book by Dunne. His writing is always compelling and the story is fascinating.
An easy summer read. How does this guy get away with turning truth into fiction?
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jul 31, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Fascinated by the World of the Rich and Famous
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
This is one of those supposedly first person accounts where the narrator (Basil Plant) disappears into the background, with it reading more like omniscient. A gossipy, voyeuristic omniscience spinning a compellingly readable yarn based on the true murder case involving Ann and Billy Woodward. A blurb from Publisher's Weekly points to the appeal of the novel: "knowing glimpses of high living in high places." The author Dominick Dunne, a writer for Vanity Fair, had walked in such places, among suc ...more
Dominick Dunne has an eye for detail and an ear for dialogue. Reading THE TWO MRS. GRENVILLES was like watching a daytime serial. The pacing is superb.

A fictionalized account of the 1955 murder of William Woodward, Jr., this book will leave you curious about the line between what Mr. Dunne recounts and what really occurred. His tale is not unsympathetic to the fictionalized Ann Woodward, although he clearly believes she is a murderess.
Jan 28, 2013 Caroline rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Susan Brewer
Reading this book was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You know what's going to happen and that it's going to be awful, but you keep watching (reading) anyways.

There were a few slow(er) parts in the first half, to fully paint the picture of this dysfunctional relationship, back in a time when the phrase hadn't been coined. I kept returning to see the story unfold, to find out what outrageous thing Ann would do next. Her capability for self-delusion was extraordinary, perhaps the sing
So there's a whole style or narration where the writer of the book interacts with the characters about which he's writing. This is another one of those. The writing is EXCELLENT. But the plot is quite a downer. It felt much like The Great Gatsby meets Rules of Civility.

Showgirl Ann Arden enchants wealthy slacker Billy Grenville with how lively and delightful and open she is. Yet a visit to Billy's cold and controlling mother Alice sets the stage for a silent, polite war between the two Mrs Gren
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kent Johnson
The writing was good but it wasn't my type of story. After reading some reviews here, I got that it was based on a true life drama. Interesting for those who like to nose into celebrity/rich persons business', but not really my cup of tea.
The two ladies mentioned in the title are mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Family matriarch Alice Grenville is very proper and very wealthy, and Ann Arden Grenville marries Alice's son William "Junior" Grenville much to his mother's dismay. Ann is a small town girl from Kansas who has come to New York to be a nightclub showgirl. Her marriage to Billy (Ann can't stand wither William or Junior as names) has its ups and downs, until one night Ann kills Billy and claims she thought he was an intru ...more
So, I liked Season in Purgatory by the same author, but it had some "too coincidental" scenes that you all know I hate, but overall, it was a great read. My mother in law gave me that book, and informed me that the author's daughter had been murdered, so I Googled him. The page I read said that Dominick Dunne was a "social climber", and wow, they were not kidding! This book ONLY talked of society and who is seen where wearing what designer, it was ridiculous, and his character is probably the pe ...more
Linda Campbell Franklin
I was amazed at how much I liked this book. I've never read anything by Dominick Donne, thinking it was all trash junk reading, but the guy sure can keep on point when it comes to plot and moving a story along. Plus the characters were really really fun to read about, and it felt true....almost. That is, there was just a hint of fable. I may never read another DD, but this one I really did enjoy. The characters were almost stock, but not quite. The settings were almost stock but not quite. The w ...more
There's nothing life mother-in-law strife among the wealthy. At least, I hope there isn't.
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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
More about Dominick Dunne...
A Season in Purgatory An Inconvenient Woman People Like Us Another City, Not My Own Too Much Money

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