Sandy Nawrot's Reviews > Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman
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Dec 04, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: audio

I love to read non-fiction like this because it not only presents a piece of history that I can learn more about, but it is something REAL that defies imagination. This is not a fast-moving story, and I wasn't always compelled to pick it up and listen, but for most of the duration of the audio, my mouth was hanging open in disbelief.

We've all heard of the Astors, Rockefellers and the Waltons. But who knows about W.A. Clark, the magnate of railroads, mining and banking, and one of the richest men in the world in the late 1800's and early 1900's? The man had quite the colorful history (as most of them do), but in his wake of millions of dollars, artwork, properties and political scandal, he left behind a daughter, Huguette, who lived until she was 104. This story is primarily about Huguette, who was, at a minimum, an eccentric recluse, who lost or gave away nearly everything her father had earned. I read this for one of my book clubs, and I suspect we will have fun discussing the woman herself (was she slow? Autistic? Aspberger's?). Did her nurses and attorneys take advantage of her good nature? Was she happy, living in the hospital for the last two decades of her life, obsessing over dollhouses and TV cartoons? Personally, I finished the book feeing ver sad for her and the bickering heirs she left behind.

Kimberly Farr narrates this book, and she does an acceptable job. But the real attraction for the audio in this case is the excerpts read by the author and the co-author, Peter Newell, Huguette's cousin, as well as taped phone conversations between Peter and Huguette. It was amazing to me that in her mid-nineties, this woman was completely lucid and could distinctly remember things that had happened to her when she was in her teens.
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Reading Progress

December 4, 2014 – Started Reading
December 4, 2014 – Shelved
December 4, 2014 – Shelved as: audio
December 18, 2014 – Finished Reading

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