ABBY ALDRICH ROCKEFELLER by Bernice Kert

ABBY ALDRICH ROCKEFELLER

The Woman in the Family

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Well-wrought life of the woman who was not only--in the words of a New York Times editorial published on the occasion of her death, in 1948 at age 73--``the spirit that held [the Rockefellers] together'' but whose role in the handling of the family wealth was ``a fortunate thing for society, for this country, and for the world.'' Kert (The Hemingway Women, 1983), despite all her exhaustive research, happily lets her subject retain all of her formidable vitality and independence--characteristics that her husband, the psychologically repressed and romantic loner John D. Rockefeller, Jr., both admired and occasionally sought to curtail. Born in Providence into the distinguished Aldrich family, Abby grew up in a household dominated by her father's career as a US senator. Part of each year was spent in Washington, where Abby often acted as hostess when her ailing mother was indisposed. The Aldriches were lively, outgoing, and irreverent; the Rockefellers pious, reserved, and cautious, especially John, who fell in love with Abby while a student at Brown. These differences irrevocably shaped the marriage: While John adored Abby, always sought her counsel, and supported her involvement in so many issues--though he only reluctantly accepted her role as founder of the Museum of Modern Art--he resented the demands that their children and society made on her. Abby, a remarkably intuitive and sensitive woman, learned how to handle John's resentment, though at some personal cost. Kert deals not only with the couple's marriage--which was, in spite of some strains, a lifelong love affair--and the six Rockefeller children, but also with Abby's generous contributions to art, education, and politics, as well with as her role in creating Rockefeller Center and Colonial Williamsburg. A splendidly intelligent, very readable portrait of a woman who was as wise in the rearing of her family as in the spending of her great wealth. (Forty b&w photos--not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-394-56975-X
Page count: 544pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993




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