The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home

The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home

by Denise Kiernan

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Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've always been enamored with Biltmore and the Gilded Age. This book covers both in an interesting and entertaining way. I've visited Biltmore several times and it is always awe inspiring!
girlfromwva64 7 months ago
The Biltmore is the largest, grandest residence ever built in the U.S. This book is the true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion. The story of this mansion spans World Wars, the Depression, the Jazz Age and generations of the Vanderbilt family. It features a cast of real-life people; including F.Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Teddy Roosevelt, John Singer Sargent, James, Whistler, Henry James and Edith Wharton. Edith Stuyvesant Dresser was orphaned at a young age. She grew up in Newport and Paris mainly. Her engagement and marriage to George Vanderbilt was one of the most watched events of the Gilded Age society. Unfortunately, none of this prepared her to be the mistress of Biltmore. Before being married to Edith, George had dedicated his life to creating his estate on 125,000 acres in the wilderness in the North Carolina. He was wealthy and asked the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to help his with his vision. Richard Morris Hunt was a famous architect and he came to erect the 175,000 square foot chateau. Edith became the mistress of an estate and a benefactress of the area. When things changed and it threatened her entire being, it was up to her to save Biltmore and secure her husband's legacy. The Last Castle is the story of Biltmore; how it began, how it grew, how it lost momentum, and how it endures to this day. I greatly enjoyed this story. I have heard about Biltmore but never realized how grand it is or how it came to be. I liked seeing how each generation of the family has evolved into caring for the "home" and its history. This is the first book I have read from this author. I will have to look at others she has written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While well written I'm sorry to say I found this book ponderous.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book has a very good subject. However, the writer does not take full advantage of the subject matter. The book does not dive very deep into what happens to the family in the later years of their life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
George Washington Vanderbilt was part of the wealthy Vanderbilt family and grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Cornelius was an entrepreneur who worked hard building successful businesses, watching them grow and thrive. The father of 13 children, his hard work made him quite rich. When he died, he left the bulk of his fortune to George’s father, William Vanderbilt who grew the fortune even more. William’s siblings all lived in the New York area. George enjoyed reading and studying. When his father passed away, he was left with a small fortune. The family all liked to have a summer cottage somewhere and George liked the Asheville, North Carolina area. This area was beautiful and the air was healthy. It appealed to many patients recovering from tuberculosis. He discovered Mount Pisgah, which he loved and is even mentioned in the Bible. Choosing his architects, Olmsted and Hunt, George favored the style of the Chateaux of the Loire Valley in France. They found that many of the wonderful trees had been cut down for furniture and the land had been overused for raising tobacco and other crops. So, a nursery was built to replace them. Then, George named the home Biltmore. Edith Dresser was one of 4 children whose parents died at an early age leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. She was a tall, slender woman of good intelligence. When she and George met, they fell in love quickly and married in France before moving to Biltmore. Edith was a great help to George and the two of them worked hard to create schools and many other things to improve the entire area. They had one daughter they named Cornelia. She was brought up in Biltmore and the family was involved with the community. George died at an early age leaving Edith to carry on in his place. She was tireless in keeping up the home and supporting the community. When Cornelia married, she then turned most things at Biltmore over to her. This book is chock full of all kinds of historical information not only about the development of the Asheville and surrounding areas, but also about the Vanderbilt family itself. The author obviously did an amazing amount of research in writing this book and is to be commended for that. I personally love Biltmore and the Asheville area and thoroughly enjoyed this book. I would think anyone, especially those living in the area, would want a copy of this book on their shelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago