Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach

( 24 )

Overview

The fate of Brooke Astor, the endearing philanthropist with the storied name, has generated worldwide headlines since her grandson Philip sued his father, Anthony Marshall, in 2006, alleging mistreatment of Brooke. Shortly after her death in 2007, Anthony was indicted on charges of looting her estate.
 
New York journalist Meryl Gordon has interviewed not only the elite of Mrs. Astor's social circle but also the large staff who cared for ...

See more details below
Paperback
$11.97
BN.com price
(Save 24%)$15.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (98) from $1.99   
  • New (17) from $2.00   
  • Used (81) from $1.99   
Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49
BN.com price
(Save 29%)$14.95 List Price

Overview

The fate of Brooke Astor, the endearing philanthropist with the storied name, has generated worldwide headlines since her grandson Philip sued his father, Anthony Marshall, in 2006, alleging mistreatment of Brooke. Shortly after her death in 2007, Anthony was indicted on charges of looting her estate.
 
New York journalist Meryl Gordon has interviewed not only the elite of Mrs. Astor's social circle but also the large staff who cared for her during her declining years. The result is the behind-the-headlines story of the Astor empire’s unraveling, filled with never-before-reported scenes.  This powerful, poignant saga takes the reader inside the gilded gates of an American dynasty to tell of three generations’ worth of longing and missed opportunities and is filled with secrets of the sort that have engaged Americans from the era of Edith Wharton to the more recent days of Truman Capote.  Even in this territory of privilege, no riches can put things right once they’ve been torn asunder. Mrs. Astor Regrets is an American epic of the bonds of money, morality, and social position.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
When centenarian philanthropist and socialite Brooke Astor (1902-2007) died, tributes to her life and good works poured forth. By the time of Mrs. Astor's death, however, her stepson and main heir could not enjoy the eulogies. Anthony Dryden Marshall was already under a cloud of suspicion. Within months, a civil suit mushroomed into a criminal case, as Marshall was charged with 16 counts relating to his handling of Mrs. Astor's will and financial affairs. Meryl Gordon's family history takes us inside the lives of the very, very rich and famous, disclosing secrets that not even tabloid hacks could have concocted.
Dominique Browning
Gordon seems to have left no diary unread, no servant unsolicited, no socialite unturned. Her stamina is remarkable. Within the first few pages, she quotes Nancy Reagan, Barbara Walters, both Nancy and Henry Kissinger, Louis Auchincloss, Philippe de Montebello, Vartan Gregorian and Annette de la Renta. If the tabloids are your morning cup of tea, this is your book.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

The indictment in November 2007 of Anthony (Tony) Marshall, the only child of the late legendary philanthropist Brooke Astor, for misuse of his mother's fortune led to an unheard-of scrutiny of America's discreet aristocracy. Gordon, a journalist whose New York magazine article on the scandal in August 2006 formed the germ of this extended work, delivers a balanced, dogged-and ultimately sad-detective account of how Astor's grandson Philip Marshall ended up betraying Tony, his own father. Horrified by accounts of the shamefully reduced conditions under which his then 103-year-old grandmother was being cared for (attested to by servants and Astor's good friends Annette de la Renta and David Rockefeller), Philip legally challenged his father, the custodian of her considerable estate, and Tony's wife, Charlene, citing in particular the uncharacteristic altering of Brooke's will in the last years before she died (she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's). Gordon sifts painstakingly through the rubble of the extended Astor family history, from Brooke's disastrous first marriage at age 17 to her dazzling reinvention in her 50s as the celebrity widow of Vincent Astor (who died in 1959), firmly ensconced at the helm of the venerable and very useful Astor Foundation. In the end, Gordon tells a sad and moving story of elder abuse. (Dec.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

This is a behind-the-scenes account of the scandal sparked when the grandson of world-famous philanthropist Brooke Astor sued his father for neglecting to properly care for his grandmother. Gordon (New York magazine) conducted 230 interviews for the book and interweaves Astor family history with insights provided by Astor's family, friends, caregivers, and servants. Shortly after Astor's death, Tony Marshall, her 83-year-old son, was indicted on 18 counts of grand larceny, falsifying business records, conspiracy, and possession of stolen property, reigniting a frenzy in the tabloids that began 16 months earlier, when grandson Philip Marshall first raised the allegations that his aged grandmother was living out her final days in neglect. Intimate details of the family life and interpersonal relationships of the New York society icon are exposed by Gordon in this impeccably researched, thoroughly detailed, and absorbing profile of a sadly dysfunctional family. Recommended for public libraries.[See Prepub Alert, LJ8/08.]
—Donna L. Davey

From the Publisher
"[An] impeccably researched, thoroughly detailed, and absorbing profile of a sadly dysfunctional family." —-Library Journal
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547247984
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/22/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 182,515
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Meryl Gordon

MERYL GORDON is a full-time magazine journalist who for the past fifteen years has been a contract writer for New York magazine. She has profiled such influential figures as Kofi Annan, Mike Bloomberg, and John Kerry, and such stars as Nicole Kidman, Susan Sarandon, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. She has written major features for the New York Times Magazine, Gourmet, Elle, Marie Claire, and More. Earlier in her career she covered the police and court beats in Cincinnati and Rochester, and then became an economics writer in Washington, D.C. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she lives in New York City with her husband, Walter Shapiro, who is the Washington bureau chief for Salon.com.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Prologue—Trial by Tabloid

When God created tabloids, that Tuesday after Thanksgiving was surely the kind of day he had in mind. On the morning of November 27, 2007, New York City’s two leading practitioners of that irreverent style of newspapering were thirsty for blue blood. Though the New York Times maintained judicious restraint, both the Post and the Daily News bannered the latest twist in the most talked-about high-society scandal in years, the saga of the late Brooke Astor and her only child, Anthony Marshall. She was, of course, the glamorous socialite and philanthropist who had transformed herself, thanks to cranky Vincent Astor’s charming fortune, into a beloved philanthropist and influential American icon.
     Her son, a clubbable war hero, former ambassador, and award-winning Broadway producer, had been transformed at age eighty-three from the epitome of WASP rectitude to a handcuffed suspect facing an eighteen-count indictment. Tony Marshall’s fall from grace was abetted by his mother, his son, his attorney (who was charged in the same indictment), and the tabloids (which were just doing their thing). Charged with grand larceny, falsifying business records, conspiracy, and possession of stolen property, Marshall was looking at the specter of a quarter-century behind bars. "BAD BOY," scolded the News. "CROOK ASTOR," snarled the Post.
     The headlines referred to his alleged scheme to swindle his mother’s millions from her favored cultural institutions (including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library) into his own accounts. But the case was always as much about family as it was about money. It began sixteen months earlier with the seismic jolt from charges by Tony Marshall’s son Philip, a college professor, who alleged that his 104-year-old grandmother had descended from Park Avenue splendor to gentrified squalor (despite eight squabbling servants). Taken up with lynch-mob ferocity by the tabloids were such allegations as Tony’s seemingly selfish refusal to allow his mother to visit her country estate, his inexplicable sale of her favorite painting, and the claim that Mrs. Astor (yes, Mrs. Astor) was spending her declining days lying on a dog-urine-stained couch.
     So began this upper-crust reality soap opera. Here in a nouveau riche age was America’s true aristocracy, the arbiters of society, the twenty-first century’s link to the New York of Edith Wharton and Henry James. But in this world of emeralds and Astors, things were not always what they seemed. Resentments seethed just below the surface, and ambition was cloaked in polished manners. The hired help, from the butler to the social secretary to Mrs. Astor’s nurses, would be drawn into the fray, testing their loyalty and discretion.
     Past and present intertwined during the final reels of the Brooke Astor story, harking back to her failures as a mother and to the girl she had been, a teenage bride married off to a dashing millionaire whose acts of violence would haunt her for more than eighty years. This family drama involved a son whose mother, father, and succession of stepfathers left him with no sense of how a loving parent might behave. And then there was the money, nearly $200 million, a ruthless American fortune built on the lust for fur pelts and Manhattan real estate.
     At 7:58 a.m., Tony Marshall arrived at the Manhattan district attorney’s office at One Hogan Place to turn himself in. White-haired and courtly, he wore a dark, well-tailored suit with his Marine Corps tie and clasp, clinging defiantly to these symbols of accomplishment and propriety. In the grim squad room on the ninth floor, Marshall was given paperwork to fill out—the business of being arrested. With its fluorescent lights, beat-up furniture, stacked water-cooler bottles, and jail cell with rusted metal bars, this setting must have seemed a harsh rebuke to a man accustomed to antiques, fine art, and regularly freshened floral arrangements.
     In the upper reaches of society, it is not enough to acquire wealth; it must be protected from interlopers, some of whom are family members. As a young man in his twenties, Tony Marshall made his first court appearance, nearby in another Foley Square building, when his biological father unsuccessfully sued him in an effort to wrest away Tony’s trust fund. Brooke Astor had been taken to court over money as well, battling to protect her full share of Vincent Astor’s millions and fend off claims from one of her husband’s aggrieved family members.
     But these squabbles had been mere civil matters, quarrels among family members without the involvement of the authorities. Tony Marshall was handcuffed when detectives escorted him downstairs for his mug shot and fingerprinting. The latter proved surprisingly complicated. Modern fingerprinting machines are not calibrated for aging digits, which leave indistinct markings. Several attempts were made before the detectives finally resorted to the ink method. Back in the squad room, Marshall was offered a nutrition bar, orange juice, and a banana, but declined. A member of the Knickerbocker Club, the New York Racquet Club, and the Brook Club, on a normal day he would have been lunching among the city’s elite.
     By the time he was paraded in full perp-walk fashion across the street to the courthouse at 111 Centre Street, his face was ashen and his hair disheveled. Here was another photo opportunity in the unrehearsed spectacle of New York, seized on by the mobs of cameramen and journalists who had been staking out the building for six hours, eager to capture Tony Marshall’s downfall in time for the news at five. A news vendor hawking a stack of newspapers yelled out, "The rich stealing from the rich, find out what happened." Spying the defendant, the vendor cried out, "Mr. Marshall, why did you do it? Do you have anything to say?"
     Walking slowly into the courtroom, Tony appeared to have aged dramatically in just a few hours, the portrait of Dorian Gray. His alarmed wife, Charlene, hurried up the aisle and wrapped her arms around him, covering his face with kisses. As she ran her hands through his mussed hair, Tony wiped tears from his eyes. Grasping his arm in support, Charlene walked down the aisle by his side, repeating, "We’ll be okay, we’ll be okay." Moments later he joined his lawyers at the wooden table and faced Justice A. Kirke Bartley, Jr., a former prosecutor known for trying mob boss John Gotti.
     Rising to her feet as the hearing began, the prosecutor Elizabeth Loewy solemnly told the judge, "Despite his mother’s generosity when she was well, he used his position of trust to steal from her." Handed a copy of the indictment accusing him of fraud, conspiracy, and theft, Tony Marshall read through it slowly, as if having trouble comprehending the words. When asked to respond to the charges, he whispered, "Not guilty."

Three months earlier, at the age of 105, Brooke Astor had passed away at her Westchester country home, Holly Hill. For nearly a century she had presented herself to the world as a woman with a good-natured and witty persona, keeping her secrets and sorrows at bay. But as her life began to draw to a close, her dreams grew more vivid and disturbing; imaginary intruders pursued her. In her last year, she was dangerously fragile and afflicted with a Merck Manual of ailments. A voracious reader and the author of four books, she had lost the ability to speak in full sentences but could still communicate using gestures or facial expressions. Each morning the nurses would hold up a choice of outfits (mostly from Eileen Fisher) and Mrs. Astor would point to indicate her preference. "She could make her will known," says her social worker, Lois Orlin. "If she didn’t want something or she liked something, you could tell." Even near the end, keeping up appearances still mattered, as she clung to her sense of dignity.
     As Brooke drifted through the days, gazing idly out the picture windows at the trees and gardens of her estate, her staff devised ways to remind her of the glory of her life and past good times. A favorite tactic was propping up on a lectern the photo album with pictures from Brooke’s one hundredth birthday party. "She really loved them," recalls her physical therapist, Sandra Foschi. "She looked in closely." The staff paged quickly past the photographs of Tony and Charlene, fearful that Mrs. Astor might find the sight upsetting. Sometimes Brooke would smile in recognition of the faces of her friends. Other times, overcome with memories, she would weep. "It was very emotional for her," says Foschi. "She would tear up, she would hang her head down. It brought great joy but also great sadness."
     Perhaps her reaction reflected change and loss. But maybe in some corner of her mind she sensed the troubles that were tearing apart the family that she had come to care about too late.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 16, 2009

    A sad story for mother and son

    The book was written in a way where you understand who Mrs. Astor was and how she portrayed herself to society. You saw a glimpse of how she raised her son and in result saw how he turned out. In the end, I had sympathy for Mrs. Astor and her son; in a way, they brought this suffering on themselves. They may have been rich but their problems weren't any different from anyone else. I felt that this book was unbiased, the right amount of information without sounding like a gossip column, and a very easy read. One flaw for me throughout the book was the repetition of quotes/lines - it almost felt like deja vu. This is a good book to read if you are interested in taking a little glimpse into what New York high society is like or if you are just relaxing.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2010

    Great book....but

    I would have purchased the hard copy if I knew that photos would not be available in eBook version.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 20, 2010

    Good read.

    Good book, gives a lot of insight into the life of Brooke Astor and the peopke around her.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    Money does not bring happiness..

    Very well written account of a famous family and what people will
    stoop to for money.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2009

    This is a journey into the life of a woman who lived too long. The story about how Brooke Astor was supported by most of her friends and a few of her family at the end.Also the story about how wealth cannot protect one from lonliness in the end.

    Brooke Astor lived a good and useful life up until almost the end. Then in a fragile state, Mrs. Astor was alost deserted by everyone. She was almost alone. Money could no longer buy any happiness. Her servants were fired by a manipulative son and his wife. She was not surrounded by care givers. Rather by noncaring givers. Fortunately she had a good grandson and some wonderful friends who saved and prolonged her life.

    Mrs. Astor Regrets is a splendid study of a situation that has now found its way to the courts.Meryl Gordon has written a thoroughly fascinating study of Mrs. Astor's end of life situation. The scene is well described through what must have been extensive research and interviews with all the players involved except Mrs. Astor.

    This book takes you into the world of the wealthy and those characters living on the fringes. It is such a socialogical study that reads like a good mystery!

    So I recommend this adventure to all who enjoy the study of society; It's highs and lows. Its customs and all the personalities encountered therein!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 23, 2009

    Mrs. Astor Regrets...

    Written beautifully and a fast read. The Astor family did so much good it was sad to see how she was treated by her only child. Her friends were her saving grace in the end. Thank you for such a great read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    well balanced

    a great read into the lives of the Astor family. the author does a good job of setting forth both sides.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 16, 2010

    MRS. ASTOR REGRETS

    This is a particularly good book if you want to evaluate the good and evils of wealth. Mrs. Astor surely led the good life with her wealth but once you are up in years you become a target for everyone envious of your wealth and this does not exclude your family members.

    Whether or not she was abused and mistreated, the author has left for you to decide, after reading the facts. Certainly a good book to play the Devil's Advocate.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    "Money does not buy happiness".

    Mrs. Astor Regrets is an apt title for Meryl Gordon's biography of Brooke Astor, philanthropist and socialite. I highly recommend it. The book conveys straight from the headlines events that led up to the New York high society scandal and indictment of Brooke's only son Anthony "Tony" Marshall, a war hero, former ambassador and Broadway producer, for looting her estate.

    The biography reads like a juicy novel, raised by a status obsessed mother Brooke who married three times, twice to men of tremendous means once for true love turned herself into a social arbiter and philanthropist. Her only son Tony craved his mother's love and acceptance and endured not being liked by Brooke's husbands or by society at large. After loaning his mother and father money from his own trust fund, as the author posits he gave it in an attempt to buy love, he then seemingly succumbs to greed. Tony's resulting actions were brought to light by non other than his own son, Phillip. Tony is currently awaiting sentencing having been found guilty.

    "Money does not buy happiness" though cliché is true. Brooke performed much good through her philanthropy however the underlying lives seem tragic and somehow empty. We can only hope that whomever gains control of the charitable trust (i.e. yet to be determined in a settlement trial once Tony is sentenced) will perform good deeds once again. This is a family drama full of well-known characters you'll immediately recognize. With an epilogue yet to be determined and written about in tomorrow's headlines its a timely book for our times, read it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 9, 2009

    Mrs. Astor

    It was interesting to learn just how the rich live, and who's friends with who in "that" world. It was an easy read. It didn't get bogged down with minute details which happens in some biographies. There was enough detail though to keep my interest. Now I want to know how the son has made out with the courts.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 26, 2009

    Mrs. Astor

    This book was an interesting aspect of Mrs. Astor's famous public life. Unfortunately, towards the end of her life her son and daughter-in-law took advantage of Mrs. Astor's poor health.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)