"In this dark and humorous memoir, Wendy Burden takes us inside the family circus that was her side of the Vanderbilt dynasty, bringing American class structure, sibling rivalry, and the decline of the blue bloods vividly to life. It's a wonderful read."
-Gus Van Sant
"An extremely funny writer"
-The New York Times
"It provides a compelling window into a life you're glad you didn't have to live, and the woman who survived it, sense of humor intact."
"Charles Addams meets Carrie Bradshaw in this honest, sardonic, and touching memoir. Burden's tale makes for riveting and often hilarious reading."
-Jane Stanton Hitchcock, New York Times bestselling author of Social Crimes and Mortal Friends
"Burden's acknowledgment that she is focusing her memoir on her father's family (Vanderbilt heirs) because "rich people behaving badly are far more interesting than the not so rich behaving badly" reassures us at the outset that this will not be another standard-issue poor- little-rich-girl memoir. After her father's suicide when Burden was six, she spends her childhood largely ignored, shuttling between the home of her self-centered, globetrotting mother and her eccentric Park Avenue grandparents. Burden offers fascinating and voyeuristic insights into a little-known segment of society, the mega-rich American plutocracy in decline."
"This blueblood tale is spun so deftly and so charmingly that it is easy to forget that this it is essentially a sad story of family neglect and degeneration. Burden joins the ranks of such memoirists as Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris, who have successfully mined their dysfunctional childhoods for comedic gold."
"There's great tragedy and sadness that runs through the last three generations of the book's characters, and yet as I write this I find myself laughing at the memory of reading her descriptions and reactions to the world presented to her by fate (and genes). You will too."
-New York Social Diary
In her down-to-earth debut, the great-great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt offers an insider's view of growing up in an old-money family rich with dysfunction. Burden and her brothers, "for all intents and purposes" parentless, were reared under the less-than-watchful eyes of hired help and her grandparents. The author's jokes about her grandmother's digestive system aren't funny enough to merit their frequency, but it's hard not to sympathize with a narrator whose girlhood was so bereft of discipline and affection. She describes her grandmother as dependent on Percocet and Dubonnet, and both grandparents as heavy drinkers living in their own private reality. After her alcoholic, anorexic mother remarried-to Burden's late-father's best friend, an arms dealer-the unhappy family relocated to Virginia. A move to suburban England followed, where the author's "pretty much friendless" teenage years were peppered with bizarre experiences like her mother giving her birth-control pills at age 14. After her grandfather flew her to Paris on the Concorde to celebrate her 16th birthday, "things in Burdenland spiraled downward faster than you can say amphetamine psychosis," and her life was marked by her grandfather's increased drinking and her little brother's suicidal tendencies, drug addiction and conviction that he was the reincarnation of their father. The author's unwavering determination to view her memories through a humorous lens pays off in her total lack of self-pity, but she occasionally comes across as glib and perhaps unable to look too closely at the root of her family's pain. Consequently, her unique experiences are often merely entertaining instead of affecting. Engagingbut uneven. Agent: Kim Witherspoon/InkWell Management