Friday, January 4, 2013

Mrs. Astor Regrets

Mrs. Astor Regrets by Meryl Gordon was a recommended book I read in the fall of 2012.

Brooke Astor was a New York old money philanthropist who headlined the news many times during her 104 years. Soon after her death in 2007, Anthony Marshall, Brooke's only son was indicted on charges of looting her estate.

The book jacket reads, "Rarely has there been a story with such an appealing heroine, conjuring up a world so nearly forgotten: a realm of lavish wealth and secrets of the sort that have engaged Americans from the era of Edith Wharton to the more recent days of Truman Capote and Vanity Fair."

Further down the jacket, "Even in this territory of privilege, no riches can put things right once they've been torn asunder."

This was such an interesting book. While I have never desired vast wealth, I will admit to having a desire for fame that creeps in every now and again. For the Lord's glory, you understand. ; )  This book changed my perspective and made me very content with my life. Actually, I came away feeling quite blessed.

Mrs. Astor was certainly a colorful character. She was intelligent, winsome, shrewd and was known to leave people in her wake. Like similar stories we hear about the rich, she was also very loyal to her friends and hired help.  But there are always people who attach themselves to the wealthy for no other reason than to get some for themselves. How it twists the spirit and mind!

The book does not definitively answer whether Brooke's son swindled her, but he was guilty of not treating her in the way she was accustomed. Much of the estate was going to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, her first love, and one has to wonder how that affected her only son.  At the time the book was published there was still an ensuing court battle.

I came away from the story with a profound sadness for those who bear the burden of wealth and fame without the firm foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Their lives are not ones to be envied.

It's good to get a peek into the lives of others and to walk away with a greater appreciation for your own.  If this story interests you, I recommend the book. It was well-written and emotionally compelling.

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