Book Talk – Prairie Fires – The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser

Welcome to a new and occasional feature on Book Club Mom called Book Talk, home to quick previews of new books that catch my eye.

I was lucky enough to get this book from our family grab bag on Christmas. Thanks to my sister for having me in mind when she bought it!

Prairie Fires is a new biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie books. Published in November 2017, it’s written by Caroline Fraser, who is the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series.  Here’s a brief description from the book jacket:

“Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls – the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial record, Caroline Fraser masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography. Revealing the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life, she also chronicles Wilder’s tumultuous relationship with her journalist daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books.”

I always wondered about Rose Wilder and what her real story was so I’m looking forward to the hard facts about this relationship. The book includes some terrific photographs, early days and later, with details that will no doubt remind readers of stories about the Ingalls family.

I’m a big fan of stories about pioneer times and the Little House book series, having read the books to our son when he was little. I’m hoping for a long winter so I can get into this book soon!

Click here for more information about the Little House series.

Are you a fan of the Little House book series? Did you grow up watching the show on TV?

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Bunny Mellon – The Life of an American Style Legend by Meryl Gordon

Bunny Mellon – The Life of an American Style Legend
Meryl Gordon


Rachel Lowe Lambert Lloyd Mellon was born into an affluent family (think Listerine and Gillette), married into an even richer family and lived a life of unimaginable wealth. Known to most as Bunny Mellon, she was friends with Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis and, because of her expertise in horticulture, was specially chosen by President Kennedy to redesign the White House’s Rose Garden. Bunny Mellon’s circle comprised the ultra-rich and well-connected. She and her second husband, Paul Mellon, son of Andrew Mellon, spent their married life acquiring artwork, purchasing, building and decorating homes in Virginia, New York, Cape Cod, Antigua and Paris. And while Paul indulged his love for horses, Bunny immersed herself in designing the perfect gardens to complement their impeccably decorated homes. They made sizeable artwork donations to the National Gallery of Art and Paul’s philanthropy extended to many other worthy causes.

In 2003, Bunny, at age 93, became fascinated with North Carolina Senator John Edwards. Edwards reminded her of President Kennedy and she was sure he was going to be the Democrats’ next rising star. She contributed millions of dollars to his campaign and to supporting organizations, and in 2007, sent secret money to Edwards’s personal account. He used that money to support his pregnant girlfriend, Rielle Hunter, while his wife battled Stage 4 breast cancer.

Throughout her life, Bunny had intense friendships with such notables as jewelry designer Johnny Schlumberger and fashion designers Cirstóbal Balenciaga and Hubert de Givenchy. Over many decades, Bunny cultivated and discarded many other friendships. Despite her wealth, Bunny endured much sorrow and heartache. The Lambert and Mellon families were loaded with sibling rivalries, feuds, affairs, divorce, estrangements and multiple plane crashes.

In this detailed biography, Meryl Gordon tells Bunny Mellon’s hundred plus year story. She begins with Bunny’s privileged childhood, elite education, and first marriage to Stacy Lloyd, Jr. and introduces Paul Mellon in a parallel build-up. Much of the book covers their married years, socializing with celebrities, dignitaries and royalty and, of course, buying things. Gordon also includes a great deal of the Kennedy story and American politics.

I enjoyed reading this biography, but I felt the book was too long and heavy with tedious details. I also tired of reading about Bunny’s talent for horticulture and love of nature and long descriptions of flowers and how they were arranged.

In addition to the length, I was frustrated by the author’s interpretation of thoughts and suggestions as to how Bunny, Paul and their friends may have felt in different situations. There were also times when the author’s opinions seemed to be mixed into the facts. Gordon’s thorough research and reporting would have been enough for most readers.

Nevertheless, Gordon does a great job depicting an extraordinary life. Bunny used her money to live extravagantly and foster friendships and she found beauty in nature, a theme that helped fill one of her many needs. Bunny died in 2014 at age 103.

I received a copy of Bunny Mellon from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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What’s That Book? Seized by the Sun by James W. Ure


TitleSeized by the Sun

Author:  James W. Ure

Genre: YA Nonfiction

Rating:  5 stars

What’s it about?  The life story of Gertrude Thompkins, a World War II pilot in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program. In 1944, Thompkins was flying a P-51D fighter plane when she disappeared during a short flight from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. Her plane has never been recovered and she is one of thirty-eight female pilots either confirmed or presumed dead.

Gertrude was raised in New Jersey and was the daughter of a wealthy business man. Her childhood was often unhappy and marked by a debilitating stutter. These years were consumed by her father’s endless efforts to cure her of the same affliction that plagued him and her mother’s depression. After high school, she earned a college degree in horticulture and traveled the world before she discovered a love for flying. It was her confidence in the air that finally cured her stuttering.

The book describes the rigorous WASP training and explains how the female pilots flew fighter planes to bases to be loaded with arsenals before enlisted male pilots flew into battle. The author includes many interesting details about the times and women during World War II. I enjoyed learning that the reason pilots wore silk scarves around their necks was to keep their necks from chafing as they constantly turned their heads to check their course.

How did you hear about it?  I saw it on our library’s online listing of new Young Adult books. I was attracted to the cover and immediately clicked on the book description.

Closing comments:  I knew a little bit about the WASP program, but didn’t completely understand what the female pilots did in the war effort. I had never heard about Gertrude Thompkins and was impressed with her fearless ambition.

Seized by the Sun is an excellent story for readers of all ages. The book includes many photographs and interesting sidebars and offers a great way to learn about history. It is part of the Women in Action Series of biographies.

Contributor:  Ginette

Have you read something good?  Want to talk about it?
Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

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What’s That Book? Gunslinger by Jeff Pearlman


Title:  Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre

Author: Jeff Pearlman

Genre: Biography

Rating:  5 stars

What’s it about?  This is a great, thorough biography on Brett Favre, the NFL great who played almost 20 seasons in the league, mostly for the Green Bay Packers. While the author doesn’t ever directly interview Favre for the book, you quickly forget that, as it’s clear that dozens of people were interviewed for this story. Play-by-play action is almost always boring in game stories, yet Pearlman has a way of making a game more than a decade old sound as exciting as if you were watching it on TV.

He paints Favre’s character without holding back — this is by no means a book chronicling only the best moments of his football career. It goes through the personal struggles that Favre endured such as drug addiction and rampant infidelity, but just when you think he’s a terrible human being, you realize he has another side. Another side that proves humans are more intricate and complicated than they appear in a news article or a TV segment. Pearlman finds a way to force the reader to put their own values and morals to the test. Are some of the things Favre did unforgiveable? Is he just a fun-loving guy who gets carried away sometimes? Did the constant spotlight make some of his actions inevitable? Everyone will have their own opinion, but the argument is by no means one-sided. In an age where fans are forced to grapple with whether to cheer for a player who’s committed a crime or moral wrongdoing but still plays for their favorite team, this story shows this isn’t a new problem.

The author captured the unconditional love that the city of Green Bay had for Favre, which then turned on him temporarily when he signed with the rival Minnesota Vikings. There’s a reason he’s arguably the first name that comes to mind when you mention Packers’ greats. Not many players were truly idolized like Favre was by Packers’ fans.

It is hard to find fault in this book. The vocabulary is impressive without sounding like he’s trying to brag. The story is a good length without feeling like it lasted as long as Favre waffled over retirement. It is, above all things, fair. Obviously, it would’ve been great to hear directly from Favre, but there are enough interviews with other people to make up for that.

How did you hear about it?  I followed the author on Twitter and he had been talking about the book a lot when it was released in 2016, so I decided to give it a try.

Closing comments:  I am not usually much of a biography guy, but this might change my mind. It’s one of those stories where you don’t have to be a Packers fan to enjoy it. You don’t even have to be a football fan. You’re certain to go back and forth on whether you like the legend that is Brett Favre, and that’s what makes him such a fascinating character.

Contributor:   The author of this review is Austin Vitelli. He currently works as an assistant editor for Matrix Medical Communications, a medical publishing company. He is a recent journalism graduate from Lehigh University. He is a huge NFL fan, specifically the Philadelphia Eagles. You can view his website here or follow him on Twitter here.

Have you read something good?  Want to talk about it?
Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

Email Book Club Mom at for information.

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From the early archives: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Celebrating four years of blogging – and sharing some early book reviews!

stevejobsSteve Jobs
Walter Isaacson

4 book marks

This biography gives us the full picture of Steve Jobs, good and bad. It is a detailed history of Jobs, his life and his creations at Apple, NeXT, Pixar and Apple again. And it’s a look at the impatient frustrations of a perfectionist who, with the genius of vision and presentation, liked to distort reality, had poor people skills and thought no rules applied to him.

I don’t know what to think of Steve Jobs. He derived his happiness from creating and was driven to do so. Isaacson shows a man who manipulated people, berated them, and often ignored his wife and children. He regularly took credit for ideas that came from his creative team and rearranged facts to benefit his point, all with no regrets. But time and again he enabled people to achieve the impossible by refusing to believe that something could not be done.  The combination of persistence and genius made him a remarkable man.

AND…Steve Jobs gave us the Mac, fonts, graphics and desktop publishing. Then he gave us the iPhone, the iPod, iTunes and music. He allowed us to re-experience the feelings we used to have in record stores as we excitedly flipped through albums and heard new music on the store speakers. Then he gave us the iPad, movies and books all with a touchscreen. He knew what we wanted, just as he said, before we knew what we wanted.

This was a very interesting read. My only negative comment is that it was sometimes repetitive, particularly on the subjects of distorted reality and Jobs’ belief in closed-end product design. I also thought the author often portrayed Jobs as too much of a beloved hero in the second half of the book, once Jobs returned to Apple. But then again, that’s when we got all these great products. And I don’t think I could live without them!

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Little House on the Prairie book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder


Little House on the Prairie Book Series
Laura Ingalls Wilder

(and other titles by Roger Lea MacBride,
Melissa Wiley, 
Maria D. Wilkes and Celia Wilkins)


It all started when our youngest son was in second grade. “My teacher is reading us a great book,” he told me one day. “Little House in the Big Woods. Do you know that book, Mom?” I knew the book, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and, of course, the hit TV show that came after Little House on the Prairie.

So when we were looking for something to read together, he asked if we could read Little House in the Big Woods again. “You’ll like it Mom,” he told me.

little house in the big woods piclittle-house-on-the-prairie

I had the vague memory that these Little House books were more for girls than boys, but when we finished Little House in the Big Woods and then Little House on the Prairie, I remembered that there is plenty in these pages to keep a young boy interested. There are stories in every chapter about hunting and the dangers of living a frontier life. The conflicts between settlers and Native Americans are presented matter-of-factly and that makes them real. Illness and hardship, loss and set-backs occur regularly. Drought and bad weather ruin crops and threaten the family’s livelihood. Wilder also includes long descriptions of how things were made and the hard work that went into building log houses, doors, windows, sleighs and furniture.

But the stories are more than that. There is warmth and kindness in these books. As a mother, I like the family dynamic and the message it sends. The children in these books are far from spoiled and are happy with what they have. Laura Wilder’s writing style is both gentle and straightforward as she tells us what it was like for her to grow up during this time. She doesn’t sugarcoat and I like that.

When we finished the first two books, we moved on to Farmer Boy, one of my favorites. The months passed. We read a chapter each night. We watched Laura grow up. We watched her family move into town, watched Laura meet and marry Almanzo and start her own life. And then came Rose, Laura’s daughter.

Ms. Wilder stopped writing at the end of The Laura Years, but Roger Lea MacBride, a long-time family friend, picked up with The Rose Years and continued writing in the same style as Ms. Wilder. We read about Rose and her family traveling in a covered wagon and settling in the Ozarks. We watched her grow into an independent spirit, move to New Orleans to finish high school and start a career.

Not ready to stop, we went backwards in time and read about Laura’s great-grandmother, Martha as a young girl in Scotland, written by Melissa Wiley. Wiley has also written a series about Laura’s grandmother, Charlotte and Laura’s mother, Caroline and she writes with the same pleasing style as Wilder and MacBride.

I recommend this classic series to anyone who is looking for realistic children’s books with the important themes of family, adventure, hardship and perseverance.

Check out all the Little House books!

The LAURA Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prairie
Farmer Boy
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
Little Town on the Prairie
These Happy Golden Years
The First Four Years

The ROSE Years, by Roger Lea MacBride
Little House on Rocky Ridge
Little Farm in the Ozarks
In the Land of the Big Red Apple
On the Other Side of the Hill
Little Town in the Ozarks
New Dawn on Rocky Ridge
On the Banks of the Bayou
Bachelor Girl

The MARTHA Years, by Melissa Wiley
Little House in the Highlands
The Far Side of the Loch
Down to the Bonny Glen
Beyond the Heather Hills

The CHARLOTTE Years, by Melissa Wiley
Little House by Boston Bay
On Tide Mill Lane
The Road from Roxbury
Across the Puddingstone Dam

The CAROLINE Years, by Maria D. Wilkes & Celia Wilkins
Little House in Brookfield
Little Town at the Crossroads
Little Clearing in the Woods
On Top of Concord Hill
Across the Rolling River
Little City by the Lake
A Little House of Their Own

Image source:

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That’s life! Books about life

Life has many ups and downs, but you can always count on a book to get you through the tougher days.  Heavy or light, fiction or nonfiction, there is no shortage of books on the subject!

Books with the word “life” in the title:

Archie The Married Life
Archie – The Married Life Book 2
by Paul Kupperberg
:  Even comic book characters have challenges and Archie has his hands full with both Betty and Veronica!

Barbarian Days A Surfing Life
Barbarian Days:  A Surfing Life
by William Finnegan:  winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, a self-portrait of a life-long surfer.

Dear Life coverDear Life by Alice Munro:  terrific collection of short fiction by one of the best.

life after life pic

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson:  One of the best books I’ve ever read, Atkinson looks at the what-ifs during the world-changing events of World War II.

Stll Life with Bread Crumbs
Still Life with Bread Crumbs
by Anna Quindlen:  Love enters the picture at all stages of life in this popular story.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty new
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
by James Thurber:  A henpecked husband escapes into his own world in this Thurber classic.

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
by Jeff Hobbs:  an absorbing story about a super smart and caring guy from a poor neighborhood in New Jersey who just couldn’t make it work.

The Story of My Life
by Helen Keller:  Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing as a baby and overcame tremendous obstacles and became a well-known supporter of many causes.

Of course you don’t have to have the word “life” in the title to write about the subject.  Here are some notables from this year’s reading list:

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway:  Hemingway looks back on his days in Paris and his marriage to Hadley Richardson.

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín:  A young Irish woman takes a chance on a better life in America after World War II.

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume:  a fictionalized depiction of life in 1950s Elizabeth, New Jersey when three planes crashed in their town.

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout:  How do you put the hushed experiences of your childhood into words, and should you?

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie:  terrific semi-autobiographical story about a life of poverty on the Spokane Indian reservation.

The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler:  Life changes in an instant when a man’s wife dies.  Will he get a chance to fix unreconciled conflicts in his marriage?

The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor:  great 1950s historical fiction about the lives of accused spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were the only civilian Americans to be killed for spying for the Russians.

Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott:  an honest and often humorous memoir about finding faith.

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas:  A family’s life is transformed after a loved-one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler:  a solid reminder that successful people put in a lot of time at the bottom, before anyone knows about them.

Thanks for visiting – back to my book!

Currently reading The Time Between by Karen White

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead by Crystal Zevon

I'll Sleep When I'm DeadI’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Crystal Zevon

4 book marks

Warren Zevon once said, “my career is about as promising as a Civil War leg wound.” These morosely funny words are a great example of the unusual wit  in Zevon’s lyrics and music. His career took off in the 1970s, with two terrific consecutive albums which featured some of the best music of the time, including Excitable Boy, Tenderness on the Block and The French Inhaler. His genius mind exploded with ideas for songs and he lived the life of a rock star, filled with excesses of drug and alcohol abuse. Even later, when his professional and personal life were in trouble, by his own fault, he was always full of ideas. He continued to write and collaborate and he toured at smaller venues to enthusiastic fans. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is a chronicle of Zevon’s life and career, spanning over forty years and ending with his death in 2003.

The book is written and compiled by Crystal Zevon, Warren’s ex-wife. The two remained friends after their divorce and Warren asked her to write the book when he learned he was dying of lung cancer. He told her to include everything, and she did.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is presented in an unusual and somewhat confusing format, forcing the reader to jump into a scene with unfamiliar characters. But the narrative eventually gains momentum as Warren’s life story unfolds. It includes the comments and perspectives of many famous musicians and writers and, I think, gives an accurate description of Warren’s creativity, his relationships and the destructive forces that took over his life.

I enjoyed reading this biography/memoir because I have always liked Warren Zevon’s music and I am a big fan of many of the famous musicians and bands he collaborated with, including Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, REM and Bruce Springsteen. There seemed to be a real camaraderie and generosity between these musicians and also among the lesser-known, but highly respected guitarists, drummers and writers. I always enjoyed looking at the liner notes and seeing who was singing in the background or who co-wrote a song and reading I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead reminded me of how much fun that was.

This isn’t a fun memory book, however. Warren Zevon was an abusive alcoholic with a big temper who could not conform to any lifestyle except his own. He hurt a lot of people, yet strangely, he had a lot of close friends who either chose to ignore the ugly side, were completely naïve to the darkness in his life, or desperately wanted his love. Even after he successfully quit drinking, his personality was often impossibly difficult.

Here are some things I found interesting about the story and about the people around Zevon:

  • Crystal Zevon’s portion of the narrative has the annoying self-serving bias of a memoir, as if to say, “Hey, I was there too.” But she was there and bore the brunt of a lot of Zevon’s madness, so I was forced to give it a pass.
  • Jackson Browne has some very insightful things to say about his friend. The whole time I was reading the book, I kept thinking about how Warren Zevon reminded me of Ernest Hemingway and I was glad to see in the last pages that Browne had once described Zevon as “the Ernest Hemingway of the twelve-string guitar.”
  • Zevon’s journal entries say a lot about who he was. They are cryptic, but they reveal his unique point of view. They show his needy side and made me feel like he was a genius child his whole life. He uses the word “nice” a lot to describe people he’s met, as if maybe he was worried that they wouldn’t like him.
  • I like Roy Marinell’s description of how Excitable Boy became a song, how critics were trying to analyze the lyrics and give them significance when the “built a cage with her bones” line actually comes from a schoolyard taunt Marinell and his friends exchanged when they were kids.
  • It was so interesting to see how Zevon’s music was really produced, especially the song I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. No one even saw each other when they recorded that song. Each musician recorded his parts separately.
  • I didn’t know that the comedian Richard Belzer had been Zevon’s regular opening act. That’s a good combination!
  • What’s interesting to think about is how a fan listens to music and never really understands the massive creative process that’s behind putting together an album. And for Warren Zevon, the huge, painful, abusive, emotional process was something a regular person would never survive being a part of.
  • It also makes me think about how some intensely creative and genius people like Zevon are almost destined to live self-destructive lives.
  • I also wonder how some dysfunctional people are enabled and allowed to continue their irresponsible and destructive behavior because the people around them want to be a part of, want a piece of that creative process and fame.
  • It also makes me think about other super-talented and creative people who did not fall apart but also led insanely wild lives as rockers – Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey – and survived. What makes them different?

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is a big book and is, at times, hard to get through, but I ultimately enjoyed learning more about Warren Zevon.  There are some great pictures of Zevon and the people in his life and everyone looks like they’re having a great time!  After watching him on Letterman, I think I will  check out his later music. He made his peace when the time came and it’s not for a fan to judge.

For more insight, click here to check out DD’s review of I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.

You may enjoy reading The New York Times review of the book.

Click here to watch a YouTube video of Crystal Zevon.

And check out Warren Zevon’s final appearance on The David Letterman Show.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

What’s That Book? I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead by Crystal Zevon

I hope you enjoy this new feature of my blog.  Many thanks to “DD” for being the first contributor!

Whats That Book

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

TitleI’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon

Author:  Crystal Zevon, Warren Zevon’s former wife and lifelong friend

Genre: Biography

Rating:  3 stars

What’s it about?  The structure of the book is a composite of quotations from friends, family, fellow musicians and music industry executives. It chronicles Zevon’s life starting with his relationship with Igor Stravinsky, through his ugly destructive alcoholic period, his relationships with friends, family, and children, his commercial success and ends with his life-ending battle with cancer.

The book includes quotations from family members, Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Barry, Billy Bob Thorton, David Letterman and many more, all admirers of his song writing and wit.  It also includes excerpts from his personal diary providing insight into his perspective and a personality which varied from a sensitive and thoughtful friend, husband and father to a cold and distant figure to the very same people.            

What I liked the most about I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead was rediscovering his music, lyrics and wit. I was reminded of the many songs and lyrics I enjoyed and shared with family and friends, the concerts I attended and how for a period of my life his music very rarely left our turntable.  While reading this book I listened to his music nearly every day and downloaded many of his songs onto my iPad.  If you are or were a fan I recommend reading this book.

Closing comment:  Upon finishing the book I could not understand how a man who regularly destroyed relationships through his behaviour and distance could also have so many admirers and close friends. But being only a fan, the enjoyment of his music is what matters most to me. Whether you read the book or not, it is worthwhile to dust off those old albums, download his music onto your iPad or iPhone and fill your days with his music once again as I have done.

Contributor: DD

Have you read something you’d like to share?  Consider being a contributor!  Contact for more information.

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Empty Mansions Update

empty mansions picThanks to Bill Dedman, co-author of Empty Mansions, for sending me this update about the book, the Clark estate and the upcoming film!

I very much enjoyed reading this book about Huguette Clark, a reclusive millionaire heiress who, by choice, lived in a New York hospital for twenty years.  Clark died in 2011, just short of her 105th birthday.  Her will was hotly contested by the Clark family when they discovered that Clark had given away a large portion of her $300 million fortune to her caregivers, personal assistant, accountant, the hospital and other non-family members.  Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. tell Huguette Clark’s story in this fascinating best-seller.  (Click here to read my review of Empty Mansions.)

The release of video excerpts of testimony, new pictures of Clark’s childhood home and additional court rulings make this an ongoing story.

Here’s Dedman’s update for readers of the Huguette Clark stories and the No. 1 bestselling book “Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune”.

  • Huguette’s inner circle speaks: Interesting new videos are online. Watch 25 video excerpts from testimony by the reclusive copper heiress’s nurse, personal assistant, goddaughter, attorney, and accountant.
  • Court rules against Clark estate: A judge in New York has rejected an attempt by the Clark estate to recover millions in gifts and fees paid by Huguette Clark to Beth Israel Medical Center. Litigation continues against two doctors and a nurse. Half of any proceeds from the lawsuit would flow to the Clark relatives, who previously received $37 million from the estate settlement. See an article on the legal action in The New York Times.  The relatives have also established a charity, the Huguette Clark Family Fund or Protection of Elders.
  • Events and discussions of “Empty Mansions” are planned in Cedar Falls, Iowa; in Los Angeles; in Santa Barbara; in St. Paul, Minnesota; and in Philadelphia. See our events page and let me know if you’d like one of us to speak (via Skype or in person) to your book club or association.
  • Photos from the Clark home in Butte: Here are striking photos of W.A. Clark’s first great house, the Copper King Mansion in Butte, Montana, built 1884-1888. Take the full photo tour. The interior photos are by Daniel Hagerman, who granted permission for us to post these photos at The Clark home in Butte is now a bed and breakfast, with tours and rooms for rent. Thank you to owners Erin Sigl and John Thompson for being such a friend to “Empty Mansions.” They have copies of the book, signed by the authors, for sale at the mansion. Plan a book club retreat at The Copper King Mansion .
  • Bellosguardo Foundation update: We’re waiting for news of an agreement with the IRS on the unpaid gift taxes owed by the Clark estate. That agreement will determine how much money flows to the Bellosguardo Foundation, which will receive the Clark home in Santa Barbara. That foundation now has a board of directors but has announced no decisions on whether or not to open the home to the public. Click here to see the names of the board members.
  • Book revisions: An update on the settlement of the Clark estate was added to later printings of the book, and all paperback copies. You can see those updated pages, Nos. 348-350, in a PDF file here,  “Empty Mansions” has gone back to press for its 14th hardcover printing and its 10th paperback printing, passing 250,000 copies sold.
  • Hundreds of photographs of the Clark family and their homes have been added to the galleries. Click here to view two videos from C-SPAN and other programs about “Empty Mansions”.
  • Signed first printings of “Empty Mansions” are for sale on the AbeBooks website. The first printing was quite small, but a bookseller in California has books signed by both authors.
  • Film news: “Empty Mansions” has been optioned for a feature film by Hollywood producer Ryan Murphy (“Glee,” “American Horror Story,” “The Normal Heart”). We’re awaiting word on cast, director, etc.
  • The Pulpwood Queens book clubs, with more than 650 clubs in 15 countries, named “Empty Mansions” its nonfiction book of the year. Click here to see the announcement.   .
  • Watch for updates on our blog, at , and on Facebook.

Thanks to everyone for reading and contributing to the Clark story.



Bill Dedman

And be sure to click on the links below to visit my earlier posts about the book, including an interview with Bill Dedman:

“Some updates on Empty Mansions – the book and the movie!”

“Author interview with Bill Dedman of Empty Mansions”

“More Empty Mansions updates!”

“Update from Empty Mansions author Bill Dedman”

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!