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Topic: Has Anyone Read "Empty Mansions"

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Subject: Has Anyone Read "Empty Mansions"
Date Posted: 5/17/2014 9:27 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2010
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It is a fascinating story about a very wealthy woman.  I'm about 20 pages from the end and still trying to figure out "the why" of her!  Wondered what others thought.

"What goes on behind closed doors, especially when those doors are of the gilded variety, has fascinated novelists and journalists for centuries. The private lives of the rich and famous are so tantalizing that Robin Leach made a career out of showcasing them. One of the biggest eccentric, rich fishes out there was Huguette Clark. Deceased for more than two years, Clark, brought to life by investigator Dedman and Clark’s descendant, Newell, owned nouveau riche palaces in New York, Connecticut, and California. An heiress, Clark disappeared from public view in the 1920s. What happened to her and her vast wealth? Answering this question is the book’s mission. Based on records and the hearsay of relations and former employees, the book pieces together Clarks life, that of a woman rumored to be institutionalized while her mansions stood empty, though immaculately maintained throughout her life. Clark left few clues about herself, but she willed vast sums to her caretakers and numerous charitable endeavors. Still, her absence acts as a shade to seeing her fully, hinting at possible financial malfeasance, all the while conspiring to produce a spellbinding mystery." Booklist

Date Posted: 5/18/2014 8:52 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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for some reason your description reminded me of the documentary Grey Gardens. I was lucky enough to see it the year it was released. It was shown at a film festival I attended.

Date Posted: 5/19/2014 5:05 PM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2010
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I saw that, too.  No, there isn't any similarity.  Empty Mansions is about the rich, Grey Gardens was about the used to be rich. :)  I saw the movie, too.  Maybe there is more of a similarity of the books, if there was a book about Grey Gardens.  Movies so rarely follow books, that my comparison might not be fair.

Date Posted: 5/19/2014 7:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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I just discovered last night that Grey Gardens is on youtube.

Date Posted: 5/19/2014 8:51 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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I'm still in the first portion, but is it FASCINATING!

True stories so often beat fiction.

                                                    Rose

Date Posted: 5/20/2014 8:13 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2010
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Obsessed, it gets more and more fascinating!  Definitely, "the rich are different."  Wait until you get to how Huguette uses/wastes her money.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 6/8/2014 2:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2011
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I thought Grey Gardens too just from the title. Sounds interesting.

Date Posted: 6/16/2014 12:01 AM ET
Member Since: 4/17/2008
Posts: 1,418
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I haven't read the book yet but have followed the story in the news. I live about 20 minutes south of her Santa Barbara estate. City officials hope it will be turned into a museum & I really hope it will. It's an amazing piece of property overlooking the Pacific ocean. Fascinating story. I think we can only speculate on the 'why' of her :-)

Date Posted: 6/16/2014 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2010
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Sandi, when our book club discussed the book, some members felt she was nuts, others didn't.  One line that stayed with me from the book was (not quoted verbatim) ....eccentricity is not a psychiatric disorder....

There is a lot in the book about that Santa Barbara property.  In the pictures, it looks amazing.

Date Posted: 6/24/2014 3:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2006
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 I have the book on my wishlist. I can't wait to get my hands on it, but in the meantime I will watch the movie Charles mentioned. 

Date Posted: 6/24/2014 10:42 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
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Empty Mansions is very unlike Grey Gardens.

The latter story is far more sordid. (Love the documentary and the few books I've read in connection with it. Also enjoyed the movie starring Jessica Lange.)

                                                                                                     Rose

                                                                     

Date Posted: 7/7/2014 8:44 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2010
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Saw in the paper this week that another book has come out about Huguette Clark--The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark By Meryl Gordon.  Am picking it up from my library today and looking forward to reading it.  I am always curious how different biographers come at a topic.  Though my guess is this book will focus more on her and less on her properties.

Date Posted: 8/8/2014 10:15 AM ET
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So I started reading The Phantom of Fifth Avenue....It is definitely a worthwhile read if one is interested in the Clark family.  Ironically, Huguette Clark was in school with the characters of Grey Gardens.  The girls all went to Miss Spence's elite prep school in NY.  I chuckled as I read that after reading the connections here on PBS.