Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!
This week I’m musing about the nonfiction book I’m currently enjoying via audiobook—Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.
This book is about Huguette Clark, a reclusive heiress who was the daughter of W.A. Clark—a self-made man who made his fortune in copper, was one of the founders of Las Vegas, and was a US senator– and whose wealth was on par with Rockefeller and Carnegie. She was raised in the largest house in New York City—121 rooms for a family of four (One of the rooms was designed for the specific purpose of drying draperies! The home also included four separate art galleries).When her father built it, he would go so far as to actually buy various companies outright—such as the factories that manufactured the building supplies he wanted—to ensure that he was receiving bargain pricing during the building process.
As an adult, Huguette owned enormous homes in California, New York, and Connecticut, but she left them all vacant and lived her last twenty years in a hospital –even though she had no medical reason for doing so. Many of her employees, including her lawyer and the caretakers of her homes, never met her in person, despite being on her personal payroll for decades. When she died at the age of 104, it was discovered that she had signed two different wills—one favoring her family, and one leaving her fortune to various employees.
I’m only on Chapter 4 of this 400+ page book, but it is absolutely fascinating so far! I love reading books like this because it’s pure escapism for me. I’m intrigued to learn about the day to day lives of people who have such incredible wealth—and the whole mystery about the wills and the reasons for Huguette’s reclusive, eccentric behavior promises to be as riveting as any fictional thriller. If you enjoy nonfiction that reads like a novel, I’d suggest giving Empty Mansions a try!
How about you? Have you heard about this book or have you read it yourself? What are you reading this week? Please share!