The Washington Post
The Loveliest Woman in America: A Tragic Actress, Her Lost Diaries, and Her Granddaughter's Search for Homeby Bibi Gaston
Her name was Rosamond Pinchot: hailed as "The Loveliest Woman in America," she was a niece of Pennsylvania governor Gifford Pinchot; cousin to Edie Sedgwick; half sister of Mary Pinchot Meyer, JFK's lover; friend to Eleanor Roosevelt and Elizabeth Arden. At nineteen she was discovered aboard a cruise ship, at twenty-three she married the playboy scion of a
Her name was Rosamond Pinchot: hailed as "The Loveliest Woman in America," she was a niece of Pennsylvania governor Gifford Pinchot; cousin to Edie Sedgwick; half sister of Mary Pinchot Meyer, JFK's lover; friend to Eleanor Roosevelt and Elizabeth Arden. At nineteen she was discovered aboard a cruise ship, at twenty-three she married the playboy scion of a political Boston family, but by thirty-three she was dead by her own hand.
Seventy years later, her granddaughter, a noted landscape architect, received Rosamond's diaries and embarked on a search to discover the real Rosamond Pinchot.
Unearthing what appeared to be a glamorous fairy-tale existence, Bibi Gaston discovers the roots of the ties that bind and break a family, and uncovers the legacy of two great American dynasties torn apart by her grandmother's untimely death. This is a tale of three lives and five generations, mothers and grandmothers, longing, holding on and letting go, men, beauty, diets, and letting beauty slip. This is the story of how we make the most of our brief, beautiful lives.
The Washington Post
The life of Rosamond Pinchot Gaston has the makings of a great story. In 1926, the 20-year-old debutante was headed home from France when a Broadway producer on the ship discovered her and launched her acting career. But the same year, Rosamond also fled fame and wealth to toil at a cannery in California. "She planned to force herself to survive without her family, her name, her past, or her bank account." By 1927 she had returned to the stage, though her continued stardom didn't bring happiness: Rosamond committed suicide in 1938. Bibi Gaston, Rosamond's granddaughter, learned about the star only when she received a box containing Rosamond's diaries and scrapbooks. But the author fails to draw us into Rosamond's story. Gaston writes in summary rather than scenes and gives an incomplete sense of Rosamond's character: Rosamond's diaries don't always explain her motivations, such as why she took her "hiatus" in California. Gaston also writes about her own life and how learning about her grandmother's dramatic life affected her, but the memoir aspect of the book is a distraction from the juicy part of the story. 50 b&w photos. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gaston, a landscape architect, has spent her life searching for her family and a sense of home. In the author's note, she states that her book is the "story of three people over three generations who barely knew one another." Gaston knew only that her grandmother was beautiful and died tragically young; Gaston's father was an enigma, having deserted the family when Gaston was a child. In midlife, Gaston was given a box that contained old diaries belonging to her grandmother, Rosamond Pinchot, a famous actress and legendary beauty of the 1920s and 1930s who committed suicide at 33. Pinchot's diaries reveal the story of a young socialite from an illustrious family who suddenly became a Broadway celebrity, a wife, and a mother and, just as quickly, disappeared from spoken memory. The discovery of her grandmother's diaries has taken Gaston on a journey not only of family and home but also of celebrity, politics, death, betrayal, and, eventually, understanding and hope. Highly recommended for public and larger academic libraries.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author
Bibi Gaston, a practicing landscape architect, has kept a diary since the age of eight.
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The first page is a real grabber and then...down hill from there. If I had found my grandmother's "lost diaries" I too would think it a real treasure. However, taking something that was interesting to me and thinking it would be even mildly interesting to someone else is the mark of a true narcissist.