Books by Allan Starkie

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 15, 1999

—A paean to hedonism" would be a better subtitle for this terminally trivial autobiography. That righteous prologue aside, this is a volume of bedtime stories and yacht-basin scandal that no gossip aficionado could resist. It's about the wealthy socialites who moved in regular sequence from St. Moritz to Acapulco, from Seville to Sardinia, from Monte Carlo to Capri, with occasional respites in Paris, London, and New York. In the early 1960s, when tabloid tales of the Jet Set were gathering steam, Gargia determined to break into "a society . . . with a polite, but resolute snobbery that kept it hermetically sealed." His recipe: Italian good looks, a reputation for performing well in bed, a patron, persistence, and patience. Members of the Agnelli and Rothschild families were early patrons, leading to sexual liaisons with Greta Garbo, Franáoise Sagan, and even—as his funds began to run low—with the 80-year-old widow of a founder of Shell Oil, "one of the richest women in the world." Gargia abandoned his elderly lover (after accepting apartments in Paris and Monte Carlo from her) for the arms of a younger, prettier baroness, launching an extravagant if "pointless and superficial" lifestyle. No name goes undropped in this account, ranging from obscure party girls to former empresses, and including Princess Grace, Aristotle and Jackie Onassis, Jack Nicholson, Gianni Versace, Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana, and Sarah Ferguson's toe-sucking lover, John Bryan. Bryan's friend Allan Starkie, a US Army intelligence office turned high-life biographer (Fergie: Her Secret Life, not reviewed), is co-author of this book. After enduring arrest as a suspect in a casino-fixing investigation, the exonerated Gargia, who publishes a magazine called The Best, wants to turn over a new (gold) leaf, urging the so-called beautiful people to do good instead of doing each other. Best of luck to them from all whose insatiable appetites for picayune scandal and vicarious socializing will be at least momentarily appeased by this book. (photos, not seen) Read full book review >