155. The Lovliest Woman in America

The Loveliest Woman in America: A Tragic Actress, Her Lost Diaries, and her Granddaughter's Search for Home by Bibi Gaston

Pages: 335
Finished: Sept. 26, 2008
First Published: June 10, 2008
Genre: nonfiction, memoir, biography
Rating: 3/5

Reason for Reading: Book was sent to me by the publisher, William Morrow.

First sentence:

For forty-three years, all I knew was that Rosamond was beautiful and that she had killed herself.

Comments: This is the story of Rosamond Pinchot told through the eyes of her granddaughter and Rosamond's own diaries which she kept for many years. Rosamond was a stage actress in the 1920's who garnered great fame and later tried to get into film, and while she did appear in a few movies, she never reached any fame or satisfaction through that venue. She killed herself at age 33 leaving behind two sons from a very rocky marriage to Big Bill Gaston.

Not only is this the story of Rosamond, it is also the story of the two Manhattan society families the Pinchots and the Gastons. It also is the story of Rosamond's descendants, her first born son William (Billy) and his youngest daughter Bibi (the author). Part memoir and part biography the book presents how suicide affects future generations and how feuding within a family creates a rift in one generation that continues on through the ages.

I enjoyed this book on some levels but not very much on others. I loved the story of the 20's and 30's. The tale of Manhattan, the theatre and Hollywood in this era was enjoyable as was the tale of Rosamond's sad life. The personal diary entries brought this all to life and the woman led both a fairy tale and traumatic life. The story of her son, William, held no interest for me. He was a man who felt he was cheated by his brother and devoted his life to legal endeavours against both his ex-wife and brother. As well, the author's own story is implanted into the biographies and the biography within a memoir doesn't do the trick for me personally. The author tries to relate how her life was affected by Rosamond's suicide and how family patterns continue through the generations. She succeeds on this point but I, personally, am not interested in that type of memoir. A non-biased portrait of Rosamond's life or the publication of her diaries themselves would have made a more interesting and enjoyable read for me.


  1. Interesting review. I think I will skip this one. I agree that the 20's and 30's part would be fun to read about but not the rest.

  2. Hmmmm...I have this one here at home to read too. I guess we will have to see!

  3. Oh the setting sounds heavenly but the subject sounds so depressing.


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