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Aldrich bears witness to the tail-end of the disintegration of that most storied of American dynasties, the Astors. Growing up at Rokeby, the crumbling, 43-room family mansion on the Hudson River, she had ample opportunity to observe and participate in the eccentricities of her once mighty clan. Interweaving recollections from her dysfunctional childhood and tales of glories past, she accurately captures and communicates the madness and malaise that have infected many members of the last few generations of Astors, including her own father. Refusing to move on and clinging to a decaying ancestral estate that could very well save them all, they live a hand-to-mouth existence, buoyed only by their obsession with their heritage and a misplaced sense of entitlement. This unflinching memoir of childhood chaos and neglect is relieved and enlivened by Aldrich’s wittily sharp observations and her obvious affection for her peculiar relations. --Margaret Flanagan
“A sparklingly mischievous debut. . . . Aldrich’s narrative tidily and fondly bears witness to the inexorable unraveling of a storied genealogy.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Novelistic. . . . Vividly gothic. . . . It’s a trick to tell a story this rich and complicated through the eyes of a child without losing the subtleties of character and nuances of history, but Aldrich pulls it off with aplomb.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“It’s the highest of compliments to say that a memoir reads like fiction, and Alexandra Aldrich accomplishes this in her phenomenal debut. With swift, haunting prose, she breathes new life into the Astor clan.” (Susannah Cahalan, bestselling author of Brain on Fire)
“A beautifully-rendered family sagafull of fires, affairs, aristocrats and illegitimate children. At the center is an endearing heroine, whose eccentric childhood on the Grey Gardens-style Rokeby estate would make Dickens gasp. . . . Splendid.” (Jennifer Vanderbes, author of Easter Island and Strangers at the Feast)
“Evocative. . . . Aldrich astutely portrays a colorful cast of aunts, uncles, cousins and hangers-onclinging to the family legacy long after the money is gone. One can’t help but cheer as she breaks away from the others to make a name for herself.” (Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them)
Liked reading about the mansion and the odd & unusual things in it.
The pictures helped set the tone for understanding the era & family
Only 4 stars because I wanted more... Read more
This is a great look at an aristocratic family fallen on hard times through heartbreaking the eyes of child just wishing for more structure and more love.Published 6 months ago by Lelain de Peche
I found this memoir to be intriguing. It gave a complete picture on how the other half lives.
We assume too much because of family name when actually they are worst off than... Read more