Gilded: How Newport Became America's Richest Resort

Gilded: How Newport Became America's Richest Resort

by Deborah Davis (2)
     
 

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There is rich—and there is Newport rich. Home to the Astors, the Vanderbilts, and other superwealthy American aristocrats, Newport, Rhode Island, has been a storied playground, cloaked in legend and mystery. For generations, Newporters succeeded in separating those who did belong from those who desperately wanted to. Finally, Gilded opens the windows toSee more details below

Overview

There is rich—and there is Newport rich. Home to the Astors, the Vanderbilts, and other superwealthy American aristocrats, Newport, Rhode Island, has been a storied playground, cloaked in legend and mystery. For generations, Newporters succeeded in separating those who did belong from those who desperately wanted to. Finally, Gilded opens the windows to its fabulous and irresistible world.

How did Newport become America's richest resort, surviving ups and downs for more than two hundred years to earn an enduring place in our imaginations? In this vibrant and colorful narrative, Deborah Davis reveals the answers as she explores the fascinating heritage of the Newport elite with extraordinary stories ranging from the island's first colonists to the newest of its new millennium millionaires.

In Newport, liveried servants once catered to every conceivable whim; ladies required 280 wardrobe changes during the eight-week summer season; sixty-room European-style "cottages" were the scene of countless opulent balls, lavish dinners, and formal teas; and fun was taken to such outrageous extremes that even monkeys and dogs might be honored dinner guests as long as they were properly attired. Davis lets you peer inside the magnificent 1880s world of the Mrs. Astor, who replaced Newport's casual entertainments with parties as sophisticated as those she hosted on Fifth Avenue, even building a ballroom big enough to accommodate her famous Four Hundred society insiders at Beechwood, her summertime perch on Bellevue Avenue. You'll see how the scheming of three determined socialites—Mamie Fish, Alva Vanderbilt, and Tessie Oelrichs—ousted Mrs. Astor from the top of the social pyramid and freed Newport from the constraints of her formal entertaining style.

Later, you'll read about the postwar dazzle of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier's Newport wedding, the tragedy of Claus and Sonny von Bulow, and the ironic turn of events that gave tourists and other outsiders a central role in reversing the fortunes of Newport's fading mansions and helping to safeguard the island's vibrant history and heritage for years to come.

Based on dozens of revealing interviews with Newport insiders and including previously unpublished stories about the rich and famous, Gilded is a magnificent portrait of a uniquely American town. You have never read anything like it before.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As a child in Rhode Island, Davis viewed Newport as “an enchanted place.” Here she traces its growth as a popular resort—as far back as 1844—with the influx of tourists prompting “enormous hotels.” On the heels of developers came mansions and elaborate garden parties, along with the smart set, literati and social climbers. (Caroline Astor established Newport as the Gilded Age's blueblood summer resort.) Examining power, privilege and upstairs/downstairs protocols, Davis (Party of the Century) looks at the town's tastemakers, loveless marriages, outrageous costume balls and extravagant dinner parties, along with social humiliations. Bringing Newport up to recent years, Davis details exclusive clubs, feuding neighbors, ostentatious socialites, controversial figures (Claus von Bülow, Doris Duke) and such eccentrics as reclusive Beatrice Turner, who secretly painted hundreds of portraits of herself. Closing chapters recount the launch of the Newport Jazz Festival and the mission of the Preservation Society to maintain historic Newport even as a “younger and hipper” crowd made changes. This light, entertaining history also displays portraitist and fashion illustrator René Bouché's superb sketches for Vogue of iconic Newporters in their signature settings. 34 b&w photos. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
* As a child in Rhode Island, Davis viewed Newport as “an enchanted place.” Here she traces its growth as a popular resort—as far back as 1844—with the influx of tourists prompting “enormous hotels.” On the heels of developers came mansions and elaborate garden parties, along with the smart set, literati and social climbers. (Caroline Astor established Newport as the Gilded Age's blueblood summer resort.) Examining power, privilege and upstairs/downstairs protocols, Davis (Party of the Century) looks at the town's tastemakers, loveless marriages, outrageous costume balls and extravagant dinner parties, along with social humiliations. Bringing Newport up to recent years, Davis details exclusive clubs, feuding neighbors, ostentatious socialites, controversial figures (Claus von Bülow, Doris Duke) and such eccentrics as reclusive Beatrice Turner, who secretly painted hundreds of portraits of herself. Closing chapters recount the launch of the Newport Jazz Festival and the mission of the Preservation Society to maintain historic Newport even as a “younger and hipper” crowd made changes. This light, entertaining history also displays portraitist and fashion illustrator René Bouché's superb sketches for Vogue of iconic Newporters in their signature settings. 34 b&w photos. (Nov.) (Publishers Weekly, September 8, 2009)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470730249
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
09/25/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
195,498
File size:
4 MB

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