Customer Review

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally wretched, August 26, 2000
This review is from: The Art of Scandal: The Life and Times of Isabella Stewart Gardner (Hardcover)
The nine reviewers who precede me have on balance been kind when giving this pretentious bit of nonsense an average rating of 2 stars. This is alleged to be a biography of Isabella Stewart Gardner, and while she plays a part in this written mess, it is the Author, Douglas Shand-Tucci who places himself and his feelings on par with his alleged subject.
I have never read anything that was punctuated, or better stated mutilated, than this offering the New York Times deemed "Notable". Notable it is, for one reviewer gave up because of the exclamation points; this Author uses them more often than periods, but never begins to approach in frequency the repetitive structural disasters that riddle every page. Maybe it is because his name contains one, I can think of no other reason, for this man uses more hyphens on a page than normally would be encountered on 100 pages of any other work. Sentences that must compete for records in length in part due to the parentheticals, quotes, and other handfuls of punctuated nonsense that was thrown at these pages by the handful.
Then there is the incessant use of "I", this is used in inane asides, and when he answers himself endlessly, i.e. "What was it that Twain said..." And then there is his habit of condescending to his readers. He will use a word he presumes would not be understood by a junior-high English class, and then goes on to explain what he means to his readers, who he clearly believes to be semi-literate.
It is an accomplishment to write about a fascinating woman who first conceived, and then created a collection of art, and a building for it, on a scale no other woman had ever done. However after 150 pages she has bought 2 paintings that the Author devoted about the same number of sentences to, why, because the balance is spent exploring the personal lives of the people around her made doubly long by the Author's pontificating on their life preferences. Who cares? This was not supposed to be about Mrs. Gardner's friends, their private lives and suicides.
This Author even has the audacity to compliment himself, as he proclaims that no other Biographer "has ever" said this or that. The reason they have not Mr. Shand-Tucci is that nobody cares.
Any other biography on this woman and her museum has got to be better than this result, which is so bad it won't even put a person to sleep.
Like another reviewer I would happily return it, but to do so would lower the quality of the inventory that I elevated when I rid them of this nonsense.
The only "scandal" here is the book, and those that let it be printed.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 26, 2008 7:49:29 PM PDT
Exceptionally Delicious! (review...)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2010 6:38:52 PM PDT
Aimee Lyon says:
Seconded. Anyone with such a commanding grasp of the English language to so vilify this author's work utterly convinced me not to purchase it!

Posted on Sep 6, 2011 10:03:48 PM PDT
This is one of the most poorly written books I have ever read. Where was the editor?

Posted on Mar 21, 2014 1:16:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 21, 2014 1:21:56 PM PDT
Taking a Rest has it exactly right. I can't remember now if I got this book as a gift or if I had the misfortune to purchase it when it hit the book stores, but it is truly awful. I've never read a biography where the biographer offers his own opinion incessantly. I'm glad to know that Mrs. Gardner was a pioneer when it came to befriending gay people but the author just beats this subject to death. Mrs. Gardner was intelligent and therefore, ahead of her time. I'm half way through the book and by this time was hoping the palace would be built and Berenson would be attending auctions and helping amass the collection but the biographer is fixated instead on who is in the closet and who isn't. This book is insufferable. I can't bear to finish it. And just so you know, "Mrs. Jack," written in 1965 and reprinted in 1984 isn't really that much better. The style of "Mrs. Jack" seems to be written in 1865 not 1965 it is so stuffy. I would very much like to know of a readable book on the fascinating Mrs. Gardner, can anyone suggest one?
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