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The Art of Scandal: The Life and Times of Isabella Stewart Gardner

2.9  ·  Rating Details ·  72 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Extensively researched and richly detailed, this biography is the first to vividly portray the extraordinary life and times of one of 19th-century America's most fascinating and eccentric women.Immortalized in print by Henry James and on canvas by John Singer Sargent and a legend in her own lifetime, Isabella Stewart Gardner struck out boldly against Victorian repression ...more
Hardcover, 351 pages
Published December 31st 1997 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published December 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sonja
Jun 18, 2007 Sonja rated it did not like it
After falling in love with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, I couldn't wait to read this book and learn more about the fascinating and scandelous life of Isabella Stewart Gardner. Unfortunately, the author's unorganized thoughts and excessive use of the exclamation point on each page enraged me and prevented me from ever finishing the first chapter.
Ciaobella
May 05, 2011 Ciaobella rated it liked it
Not nearly as factual as I'd like, and seemingly ready to validate his own impressions, I still enjoy this different perspective on the varied life of art collector, mentor, muse and Victorian progressive thinker, Isabella Stuart Gardner.

The officially sanctioned book of Gardner's life is written by the Museum's first director, Morris Carter, "Isabella Stuart Gardner and Fenway Court." "Mrs. Jack" by Louise Hall Tharp, also has museum blessings. But it's always nice to read the "Non-sanctioned"
...more
Marti
Sep 16, 2016 Marti rated it it was ok
It took me three months to slog through this. Gardner truly was an interesting woman, and it was worth the slog to learn more about her. However, there were long sections that seemed to serve no purpose other than to remind us that Shand-Tucci had done a lot of research. His writing style also left a lot to be desired, especially when it came to commas. Multiple times I had to reread sentences because they were so long, abused commas, or underutilized them. And! There! Were! So! Many! ...more
Francesca
Mar 09, 2012 Francesca rated it did not like it
One star for this book is generous. Although I am fascinated by the life of Isabella Stewart Gardner and Boston's Gardner Museum, this book is so poorly written that reading it is torture. In spite of the author's credentials, his writing leaves a great deal to be desired. The book is riddled with asides that have little or no bearing on the life of Isabella Stewart Gardner. He inserts digression in parenthesis within a sentance. The book is poorly organized and often boring.
I am greatly disappo
...more
Cheri
Sep 03, 2011 Cheri rated it liked it
This gets all of it's stars from the subject matter, Isabella Stewart Gardner, who is a fascinating and extraordinary woman. The writer gets all of the empty spaces because of the gossipy style in which he writes the story of her life. Shand-Tucci is too fond of his own ideas and is far too selective with his facts, only mentioning those which conform to the story he is telling. This isn't the full biography that Gardner deserves, but given the lack of biographies about her, it's a place to ...more
Suzanne
Isabella Stewart Gardner was/is a Boston treasure. Her love of the Arts lives on in the Gardner Museum she designed and built on the Fenway and is a must-see for those visiting Boston.
Sadly Douglas Shand-Tucci's biography is pompous in its language, disorganized and poorly written. I bought this in hardcover years ago when it was first published and loaned it to friends whose interest in Mrs. Jack's life outweighed my opinion about the book.
Sadly, all agreed. This is just dreadful.
L.M. Vincent
Dec 01, 2013 L.M. Vincent rated it liked it
A fascinating subject, and Shand-Tucci really knows his stuff. Unfortunately, the writing is overly pedantic, inappropriately personal on occasion, and over-ridden with exclamation points. At times, the writing was down-right exasperating. Still, I was intrigued enough by the subject herself and the breadth and depth of the historical detail, that I made my way through it, and was glad I did.
Ellenh
Sep 11, 2009 Ellenh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I so wanted to love this book, as the museum is one of my favorite places, but was bored to tears reading it. Shand-Tucci obviously had done his research thoroughly, but spent so much time evaluating the relations of her friends, and their work, that I was lost in daydream. Too bad, seemed that her life should have provided a more interesting story to tell.
Terri
Feb 10, 2014 Terri rated it did not like it
Shelves: art
I was so excited to read this book about the fascinating woman, Isabella Stewart Gardner. Her home now museum is a masterpiece.

Douglass Shand-Tucci's book unfortunately is a droning joke. That he could take such a fascinating woman and make her a bore to read about is a shame. I paid the used price of $.01 and think it was over priced.

The cover looked ever so hopeful...
Carolyn Crocker
Jun 25, 2014 Carolyn Crocker rated it liked it
Pity her poor biographer when a conscientiously outrageous woman burns all her letters and papers and demands her correspondents and family do the same! Shand-Tucci then must psychoanalyze, empathize, and free associate to produce 368 pages of art criticism and gossip. Still, Isabella fascinates the reader willing to wade through it all.
Barbara Boles
Jan 16, 2014 Barbara Boles rated it liked it
It's fun to read about Mrs Gardner's life, which was fascinating - she really figured out who she was and what she wanted to do when what she'd planned didn't work out. The author is knowledgeable, but there are an awful lot of exclamation marks.
t-rex
Jan 13, 2014 t-rex rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Patient Isabella Gardner fans
Shelves: on-isabella, 2007, art
Wonderful subject matter, but the gossipy writing style makes this more of a slog than it should be.
Rochelle
Dec 03, 2014 Rochelle rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
the author is inserting himself into this book far too much. I think I will just wait until I can go to Boston to see the museum and learn more about Isabella there.
Becky
Jan 20, 2014 Becky rated it it was ok
I loved learning about Isabella Stewart Gardner, a true visionary, but book is poorly written and tedious.
Kristin
Feb 01, 2008 Kristin rated it liked it
A bit of the author proving his own thesis -- but still good for those who love the Gardener museum.
Lacey
Lacey rated it really liked it
May 10, 2007
Deborah Necessary
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Aug 05, 2014
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Laura rated it liked it
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Laurie
Laurie rated it really liked it
Nov 07, 2007
Touri
Touri rated it it was ok
Nov 15, 2016
Ellenh
Ellenh rated it it was ok
Sep 11, 2009
Bill
Bill rated it liked it
Sep 12, 2010
Andrea
Andrea rated it liked it
Feb 10, 2010
Amanda
Jan 24, 2008 Amanda rated it liked it
It's a bit slow slow but the story has potential (I hope)
Nina
Nina rated it liked it
Dec 04, 2007
Katherine
Katherine rated it it was amazing
Mar 12, 2013
Linds
Linds rated it liked it
Apr 11, 2013
Chris
Chris rated it liked it
Sep 05, 2012
Mary
Mary rated it really liked it
Apr 27, 2010
B.A. Shapiro
B.A. Shapiro rated it it was ok
Jun 09, 2014
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