Sue'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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it was amazing
bookshelves: bio-memoir, non-fiction, library-book, read-2013
Recommended for: history and biography lovers

I hastily put a hold on this book at the library after reading my GR friend Kris' review. (In fact I tried to request it before they had ordered it, I was so anxious to read this!)

This is the story of Hugette Clark, the youngest daughter of William A. Clark, a business tycoon who made his fortune in copper. While unknown today, his riches rivaled men such as Rockefeller or Vanderbilt. Starting with William's parents, the Clark family spanned the entire history of this country in three generations.

Hugette, though she did marry --for a year--re-assumed the name Clark for the remainder of her life (1906-2011) and was known variably as Madame, Hugo, Mrs Clark and other titles during her life. She was born in France, spent her early years there and always spoke with a slight accent according to those who knew her. She also used French in conversation, especially to have private conversations if sevants, employees or others were around.

This book deals with the story of her father's life, his marriage to her mother, her family life and her adult life especially as it becomes more and more removed from the visible world.Why on earth would a woman with hundreds of millions of dollars, five estates, wonderful art and other belongings, live her last twenty years in a hospital room?

That is the central question asked by the authors. And it is very well worth reading to find the answers. Along the way, you will learn much you didn't know about American history and art and music and so much about this one lady. I truly would have liked to meet her just once!

Highly, Highly recommended!

PS...there are many period photographs included.

for a review I won't even try to emulate I will recommend you read Kris' at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
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Reading Progress

August 16, 2013 – Shelved
August 16, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
August 16, 2013 – Shelved as: bio-memoir
August 16, 2013 – Shelved as: non-fiction
September 25, 2013 – Shelved as: library-book
November 2, 2013 – Started Reading
November 3, 2013 –
page 52
11.4% "I find it a bit amazing that I'd never heard of this family before learning of this book."
November 5, 2013 –
page 200
43.86% "what a great 20th century history lesson as well as the story of one very individual woman's life."
November 7, 2013 –
page 496
100% "Wonderful read!"
November 7, 2013 – Shelved as: read-2013
November 7, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Kris I am so glad you loved it, Sue! (My mom is finishing it tomorrow -- she's finding it difficult to put down.) And thanks for the kind comments re. my review -- but yours is excellent. I am sure it will bring others to read Empty Mansions.


message 2: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue I tried to make it that kind of review Kris but I also wanted to link it to yours which has more hard information. I think I just liked it better and better as I kept going. I'm sure you'll understand when I say I found myself talking to the book at a couple of points near the end. (I don't want to say too much). I also want to google her. (also won't say more right now)


Kris I had the same reaction in the last sections of the book!


message 4: by Heather (new) - added it

Heather Fineisen Okay ladies, now I can't wait to read this one...


message 5: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Heather wrote: "Okay ladies, now I can't wait to read this one..."

Good! It's worth it.


Diane Barnes I downloaded it, and thanks to your review, I'll read it sooner rather than later. You've certainly peaked my interest, which is what a good review should do.


message 7: by Sue (last edited Nov 08, 2013 08:00AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue I'm glad Diane. I don't think you'll be disappointed. I'll also be watching for your thoughts.


Mary Ronan Drew Irresistible. Have requested it from the library.


message 9: by Barbara (last edited Nov 08, 2013 12:36PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Barbara Sue, delightful, infectious review! Thank you also for Kris's wonderful revue. I must read this book! Who knew???


message 10: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Mary Ronan wrote: "Irresistible. Have requested it from the library."

Great. I look forward to your review and comments.


message 11: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Barbara wrote: "Sue, delightful, infectious review! Thank you also for Kris's wonderful revue. I must read this book! Who knew???"

Thanks Barbara. I'm glad my enthusiasm came across and hope others enjoy this as much as I did. It really does amaze me that this family flew completely under the radar (well, at least my radar). And I did want to link to Kris's great review as it has so much information in it.


message 12: by Mikki (new) - added it

Mikki Why on earth would a woman with hundreds of millions of dollars, five estates, wonderful art and other belongings, live her last twenty years in a hospital room?

I'm fascinated by these types of stories especially those that center around old New York. There seem to be many. You also read Doctorow's Homer & Langley, didn't you?


message 13: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue Mikki wrote: "Why on earth would a woman with hundreds of millions of dollars, five estates, wonderful art and other belongings, live her last twenty years in a hospital room?

I'm fascinated by these types of s..."


Yes I did read that too. It really is interesting reading about such eccentrics. If you know of any others, let me know. I guess the Astor story is pretty sad, though that's a bit different.


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