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THE ART OF SCANDAL : THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ISABELLA STEWART GARDNER
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Top Customer Reviews
Mrs. Jack, a New Yorker transplanted to Boston by marriage and alienated from the Brahmins by character, was often generous but not always kind. She acted as mentor and patron to outcasts of the time -- homosexuals, Jews, artists and (to a lesser extent) women -- but she was also quick to reject those she considered beneath her interest. She built Fenway Court, a truly unique and visionary museum, for the people of Boston; but she would also have her carriage park on the sidewalk in inclement weather even though many pedestrians were inconvenienced.
Furthermore, the enigmatic Mrs. Gardner destroyed many of her letters and papers shortly before her death, so the fact that Shand-Tucci's insightful speculations about her seem plausible is no small feat. That is why it is particularly tragic (perhaps too strong a word, but close) that the reader can never forget the presence of this heavy-handed narrator. Here is a sample sentence (page 158):
"Though stimulated by her patronage-Gardner was one of the first to see Loeffler not only as a virtuoso but as the composer he wished to be and increasingly today is regarded as-Loeffler grew to feel at one point distinctly imposed upon by Gardner, who seemed to him possessive and only too willing to "show him off" in Ralph Locke's words, as "a kind of in-house virtuoso" in the Gardner music room, all of this, or (sic) course, quite classic behavior on the part of humble but artful, trustworthy but vain, kind but cruel and rampagingly dominant Isabella!"
One can open the book to almost any page, as I did with this example, and find sentences as bad or worse. The jacket states that the author won an award for a previous book, but that is difficult to imagine. It is almost unreadable, and I put the book down twice before I finally finished reading it.
On the other hand, it did make me want to revisit Fenway Court (now the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) in Boston. The content is great but the style is almost insurmountable.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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