Books by Gloria Vanderbilt

Released: April 5, 2016

"Entertaining and thoughtful moments exchanged between a mother and son who have spent much of their lives in the spotlight."
A famous mother and famous son bond through email exchanges. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2004

"More surface than substance."
In a gossipy tribute to romance's irresistible lure, celebrity heiress Vanderbilt coyly recalls the many loves of her life. Read full book review >
A MOTHER'S STORY by Gloria Vanderbilt
Released: May 10, 1996

A poignant and painful memoir of a son's suicide—the dark side of Mother's Day. At one point in this brief volume, Vanderbilt (The Memory Book of Starr Faithfull, 1994) says of herself, ``There's a place deep inside me that is hard as a diamond.'' It would have to be to survive not only the traumas of Vanderbilt's childhood (described in 1985's Once Upon a Time), but the sudden death of her husband Wyatt Cooper when their two sons were still young, and the death of her son Carter at age 24. The story begins as a celebration of the family that Gloria and Wyatt Cooper built together. The narrative is interspersed with diary entries recalling an idyllic family summer at the beach, with eulogies from Carter's brother and friends, and a prescient poem by Carter. Even after their father's death, the boys escape the spoiled rich kid syndrome. Carter finishes college, gets a job, falls in love, all the while impressing his peers as ``pure'' and ``good.'' On the day he dies, Carter does move back to his mother's house, exhibiting somewhat curious but not worrisome behavior. Waking from a long afternoon nap, Carter is at first disoriented and then, in an aberrant act, he races to the terrace of the apartment, climbs on its rampart and sits there before dropping to his death on the street below. His mother tries desperately to reach him, to talk him back down off the ledge, to recall him to sanity, to no avail. Vanderbilt relives that day and those moments again and again, in therapy, with her friends, and in the sorrowful letters she writes to Carter. Slowly she begins to heal—that is her message—but she will never be the same. A sometimes clumsy structure only underlines the remarkable intensity of feeling that Vanderbilt conveys. The reader will bear the weight of her sorrow, even after the book is closed. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 24, 1994

This ludicrous recreation of an early 20th century diary by poor-little-rich-girl Vanderbilt (Never Say Goodbye, 1989, etc.) proves definitively that being famous is in no way equivalent to being talented. Despite her fatuous name, Starr Faithfull was an actual person whose mysterious death in 1931 led the police to discover her diary, which revealed that her cousin Andrew J. Peters, who had served as mayor of Boston, had sexually abused her beginning when she was 11 and he was 45. After the investigation, the journal disappeared. Vanderbilt begins in 1917 on Faithfull's 11th birthday, and the sugary tone that poisons all the entries is immediately apparent. Faithfull soon begins pretentiously calling her journal a ``Memory Book'' and addressing it directly as ``Mem.'' Daily incidents are reported fastidiously, punctuated with plenty of phrases like ``Oh Mem, I can't wait!'' and other fey touches meant to lend little-girl innocence. Faithfull comes across as a simpering brat (``Lucy Edwina and I are the most important girls in school now that Cousin A. is mayor of Boston''), and her repetitiously similar upper-crust tales of Christmas and dancing school all run together. Even the abuse by Peters (whom Faithfull nicknames ``Fou'' because those are his initials in a secret code that she created) is meaningless fluff from this spoiled child's point of view. He plies her with a bottled substance (presumably ether) that Faithfull refers to as ``creamy dreamy'' because of the sensations it causes, and engages her in games of ``make the corn grow.'' Occasionally Vanderbilt appears to recall that this is meant to be a historical novel, so she has Faithfull pen a line like ``A very terrible thing has happened in Russia, Mem. The Bolsheviks executed Czar Nicholas II and all his family.'' In 1924 Faithfull moves from Boston to New York City, where she starts hanging out with a bad crowd, then becomes obsessed with a man. Hers is a sad, perhaps even interesting story that deserved better treatment. Painfully shallow. (Literary Guild selection) Read full book review >