Friday, May 8, 2015

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

I was completely captivated by the American history and rich eccentricity presented in this book; this is the kind of nonfiction I love - well written and engrossing, with liberal photographic illustrations.

W.A. Clark was a pioneer in Montana back before it became a state. He made a ton of money in his entrepreneurial ventures, including hauling mail, prospecting in grocery items and tobacco, and copper mining. He built railroads and subdivided a plot of land that became downtown Las Vegas. A late-in-life second marriage to a much younger woman brought two daughters, in addition to his already-adult children.

Combining W.A.'s late-in-life family and his youngest daughter Huguette's 104-year lifespan means this book and these 2 rarified people's lives encompass a huge and extremely eventful span of American history. But perhaps just as interesting as the history lesson are the tales of lavish spending and luxury lifestyles.

At the end of her life, Huguette owned five residences (3 homes and 2 apartments) and yet insisted upon living in a New York City hospital - despite the fact she wasn't sick. She spent piles of money on dolls, dollhouses, and charitable donations to whomever she wished, while also refusing money to many who thought themselves more deserving. She owned priceless art masterpieces, jewelry she never wore, and cars that were never driven.

When I finished the book, I had to immediately get online and learn more - that's the sign of a good book, in my estimation. Lawsuits were still pending when the book was published, and I so wanted to know WHAT HAPPENED! I highly recommend this book. Awesome!

No comments: