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The Two Mrs. Grenvilles: A Novel Paperback – September 15, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345522214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345522214
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #511,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A LUSCIOUS NOVEL."
--Cosmopolitan

"STEAMY."
--Newsday

"COMPELLING."
--Liz Smith
   New York Daily News

"DIVERTING."
--Glamour

"SIZZLING."
--Copley News Wire


From the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

When Navy ensign Billy Grenville, heir to a vast New York fortune, sees showgirl Ann Arden on the dance floor, it is love at first sight. And much to the horror of Alice Grenville--the indomitable family matriarch--he marries her. Ann wants desperately to be accepted by high society and become the well-bred woman of her fantasies. But a gunshot one rainy night propels Ann into a notorious spotlight--as the two Mrs. Grenvilles enter into a conspiracy of silence that will bind them together for as long as they live. . . . --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Dominick Dunne (1925-2009) was the author of five bestselling novels, two collections of essays, and "The Way We Lived Then," a memoir with photographs. His final novel, "Too Much Money," will be published in December 2009. He was a Special Correspondent for "Vanity Fair" and lived in New York City and Hadlyme, Connecticut.

Photo (C) H. Thompson

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 56 customer reviews
I found this book very interesting.
Anne M Richard
This book is intruiging to read and a fast page turner.
UniversityDoc
I first read this book over twenty years ago!
C. Gutherman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Fanoula Sevastos on February 17, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A quasi-fictional book, this is a delicious story about the higher echelons of New York society in the 1940's and 50's. It was inspired by the real life of Ann and William Woodward, and William's murder in 1955 by his wife. She was acquitted of any wrongdoing. But the murder's way besides the point here. The fun of this book is the insider view of those high society circles. Dunne, a writer for Vanity Fair, dishes about these folks with a giggle and takes great pleasure at exposing them and their snobbish ways. The main focus is Ann Grenville (Woodward), social climber extraordinaire, who sets her sights on Billy and his money and his lifestyle. She's a showgirl and his family wants nothing to do with her. Once they marry, she schemes constantly as to how to get accepted in those tightknit circles that usually don't take kindly to outsiders. And she does get eventually get included, even if she's talked about behind her back. The parties and the hobnobbing and the backstabbing all escalate and get out of hand, of course, and lead to one fateful night. A fun, gossipy, mindless read -- I thoroughly enjoyed it for what it was.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Allen MacCannell on May 18, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book, like the author's book "People Like Us" is a fascinating fictionalized account of the Billy Woodward murder in 1955 by his social climbing wife. The book includes a magnificent account of how Ann Woodward lived with her guilt and ostracism for twenty more years until she and, separately, her offspring finally committed suicide. For New York City residents who are even mildly interested in the New York social scene and its various "levels", this book is a must. It is better than "Bonfire of the Vanities" and crosses the span of four decades, making it a sort of epic novel. Note that William Woodward the 3rd just committed suicide on May 2, 1999 bringing the real-life story to a close, except for the fact that his wife is contesting his will which said that she should get nothing of the vast unlucky fortune.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you're shaking your head wondering why anyone would ever enthuse over Dominick Dunne after reading his terrible stuff on the OJ trial and the Lewinsky scandal in VANITY FAIR, go back to read this, his first novel. Not only does it feature the tasty gossip about the lives of the superwealthy which made him famous, but it also shows some real psaychological perspective on his characters, and a sense of irony about the pathos of these shallow society lives entirely missing from his more recent work. When I first read this I stayed up all night until I finished it--it's really a fun go.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bragan Thomas on February 18, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In mid 1955, New York society was stunned by the sudden death of banking/real estate scion William Woodward at the hands of his wife, Ann, a former actress and model. Mr. Woodward was shot in the chest at point-blank range in their North Shore country house. Mrs. Woodward maintained to her dying day that she thought her husband was a prowler who had broken into a number of houses in the area. Interest in the case was so great that even the staid New York Times put it on the front page for weeks on end. Ultimately, the case was closed as an accidental shooting and Ann Woodward was never charged with any crime. Allegedly, Mrs. Woodward's mother-in-law, powerful society dowager Elsie Woodward, used her influence in New York to scotch criminal proceedings against Ann to save the family from the dishonor of a trial and public airing of the Woodward family's very dirty laundry. In 1975, Truman Capote (who had earlier befriended Mrs. Woodward) allowed a thinly-veiled treatment of the case (in which he suggested that Mrs. Woodward had deliberately shot her husband to prevent him from divorcing her on the grounds of bigamy) to be published by Esquire magazine. Ann Woodward killed herself with cyanide days after the article appeared. A short time later, Ann's troubled younger son Jimmy committed suicide. Eldest son Woody Woodward followed his mother, father and brother into the grave in the 1990s, also a suicide. Author Dominick Dunne befriended Woody Woodward in the early 1980s, and seems to have gotten Mr. Woodward's personal approval of his novel before its publication. THE TWO MRS. GRENVILLES has many advantages as a novel, but depth of characterization is not one of them.Read more ›
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Whynott on December 21, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this story-behind-the-story, inconspicuous narrator Basil Plant tells his tale while directing the limelight onto Ann Grenville, the "murderess" accused of killing her exceedingly wealthy spouse in a fit of rage. Ann is a character the reader grows to love and hate, respect and pity. Her quest for acceptance on the topmost rung of the social ladder is both noble and pathetic, and is the core of a mesmerizing novel that aptly portrays the trials and manipulations of upper crust city life. I enjoyed this book immensely and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about gossip, manipulation, murder and lavish debauchery.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tom Bruce on April 3, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am always reading a book on the subway. Most recently, that book was "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles." Bad choice. Twice I got so caught up in the detail of the lives of the Grenvilles that I read on past my stop. That has never happened before, and hopefully never again. Reading about the high society lives, the passion, the intrigue, the snobbishness of the society-registered upper crust is indeed a guilty pleasure, and a great pleasure as well. This novel, supposedly based on the true-life murder of William Woodward by his wife, presents the older Mrs. Grenville (mother-in-law): born well, married well, lived well. And it presents the younger Mrs. Grenville (daughter-in-law): born dirt poor in Pittsburgh, Kansas (yes Kansas), deserted by her father as a young girl, brought up by her mother and her various men of the moment, then turning to the glamorous life of a showgirl as she danced in a line behind Ethel Merman. But Ann Arden did marry well, William Grenville, Jr., don't you know, and she lived very well, to a point. To a point that her trashy, ill-tempered, paranoid roots took over and "Annie got her gun." Told by Billy Plant, one of the author's alter egos, this is classic Dominick Dunne without the incessant name-dropping, but with the terrific attention to detail he has brought to most of his writing. I found this book thoroughly enjoyable
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