Huguette Clark, born near the beginning of the 20th century, was the daughter of the nation’s second richest man and grew up in luxury. She was a lively and social philantropist who relatives one day realized had become gradually more distant until she virtually disappeared. What happened to this once vibrant personality?
The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark is an infuriating read. It is a dispassionate account of this life of Huguette Clark and what happened to her once she went into isolation written by journalist, Meryl Gordon. What is infuriating about the book is the connection that Gordon builds between her subject and reader and then the revelation that she was basically a tool for gain in her latter years outlined in objective fashion that could not make clearer the motivations of the century old woman’s carers.
Before reading The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark, I had not heard of the lively Senator from Montana, William A. Clark. He and his first wife, Katherine, had seven children before her death in 1893. After Katherine’s death, William married his teenaged ward, Anna, with whom he had two children, the youngest of which was Huguette. Gordon’s account of Clark’s early life and the lives of her parents are through and when she embarks on the latter chapters of Clark’s life relies on interviews with key players who seem to have been surprisingly open with the journalist along with court documents that chronicled the struggle between the heiress’ family and the people paid to care for her. Clark lays out in a linear fashion the relationship of Huguette and her parents, the loss of her older, adored sibling and her relationship with her remaining and much older half-siblings with whom she was distant and cordial. Huguette’s mother, by all accounts, was a colorful woman who reveled in her daughter and indulged her while making clear that she was in this life on her own. A brief marriage that went bad cut through the middle of Huguette’s isolated existence.
The sign of a really good book was when the back cover is closed, the reader heads to Amazon and buys everything the author has written and that is truly what happened in this case. The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark is confounding. Huguette’s relatives had a relationship of routine and it took them coming together to realize that no one had heard from her. How she wound up in the hands of people who seem to have had genuine affection for her but were eager to use her to their advantage isn’t a perplexing mystery. She was grateful for their attention. The e-mails that flew between the hospital higher ups and their fundraising department is beyond shameful. Huguette may have preferred living in the hospital with her precious nurse and seemed quite aware that the all hour dedication she gained was contingent on making the woman very wealthy.
The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark is really a story of morality. People knew what was going on with Huguette and her carers and looked the other way. Did they believe the woman was better off or did they look for their own payday? You make the call. I will tell you that I was furious when I finished reading this book. I become so engaged with Huguette and her story and the steps that led her to be the woman who would pay – and pay dearly – for company was just heart breaking. The Phantom of Fifth Avenue: The Mysterious Life and Scandalous Death of Heiress Huguette Clark is a must read. Seriously, pick it up today.
Better World Books Reading Challenge – A Book that Rewrites History
Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis is a retelling of William Antrim’s story based on what is known of his life from cradle to grave and a look at the events that contributed to his outlook on life and interaction with the growing western population.
Better World Book Challenge 3 – A Childhood Favorite
In The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, the author and her family lived in Haarlem in the Netherlands in 1940 when the Nazis invaded. As Calvinists, they saw it as their duty to help God’s people and set about creating a hiding place in their home for Jewish people that came to them for refuge. The Hiding Place follows their quest to save those they could and their ultimate capture and internment. Continue reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
Twelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimner, chronicles the journey of 13 black and white Civil Rights Activists from Washington D.C. to New Orleans. The riders planned a protest of the southern states ignoring two Supreme Court rulings that segregation on buses crossing state lines was unconstitutional. The protest was meant to be peaceful and shine a light on the nonobservance of the rulings in the south. What met them on their journey was violence and hate. Continue reading Twelve Days In May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimner
In 1951, Tobacco Farmer Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer. Before her death, cervical cells were harvested without her consent and became the first human cells to grow in a lab. They would grow an entire generation of new cells in a 24-hour period. Over the years those cells, known as HeLa to scientists, became a hot commodity in the scientific world standing at the forefront of some of the greatest medical breakthroughs, but Henrietta Lacks remained largely unknown. Unknown — until her daughter started looking to find out more about the mother she’d never known. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is her story. Continue reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed is the nineteenth-century account of his life as a free, black man born in 1823 who spent his life between hard labor, indentured servitude and incarceration at America’s first industrial prison. The recently discovered manuscript written when Reed was still in prison was authenticated by Yale scholar, Caleb Smith and includes letters written by Reed later in his life. Continue reading The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict by Austin Reed
The Frood: The Authorised & Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Jem Roberts is an examination of the influences and impact of the late Douglas Adams on British comedy, his most famous work, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and his legacy.
In Unto the Daughters: The Legacy of an Honor Killing in a Sicilian-American Family by Karen Tintori, the author writes about hints of matters that no one in the family would talk about. When the sister became the “one they got rid of” as a result of her aunt’s slip of the tongue, Tintori felt compelled to pursue the secret that her family had kept for many years. The author takes the reader on the process from innocent genealogy research to a deep secret uncovered.
If you are looking for books dealing with human rights, check out those that have been reviewed on this homepage. Our main post with an overview of books and movies were reviewed for human rights day 2016 will be published later. At the moment, enjoy the Rabid Reader’s Book List for Human Rights Day 2016 and make sure to visit this site later.
Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching That Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism by Mark Curriden & Leroy Phillips
Genre: nonfiction, human rights, political science, African-American studies
In 1906, a white woman was brutally raped in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Ed Johnson, a black man, was working at his restaurant job when the attack happened but was arrested and charged with the crime. When his lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay of execution and that stay was granted, local folks, led by officials, took the law into their own hands. In a history-changing move, the lynch mob faced federal legal repercussions. Ed Johnson cleared of the rape charges 100 years later. You can read the review of a “Contempt of Court” here.