A sort of ""Life With Helen Gould"" book. This is written with sly good humor and provides a faithful account of a fabulous woman who lived a period piece in her own lifetime. Helen Gould Shepard was the eldest daughter of Jay Gould, financier. She adopted four children, the eldest of whom was Finley, who came down with measles at an orphan's party. Then Louis, the author's husband, was brought in because it seemed healthier for Finley to have a playmate other than spiders. His demand for a brace of sisters resulted in adopting Olivia and Helen Anna. Their mother loved them lavishly but did not spare the rod. They learned chapters from the Bible or arias from operas as punishment; Tuesday was French night and Thursday Spanish night, with starvation the alternative to knowing the foreign name for the foods. The new daughter-in-law's initiation to the family introduced her to a Victorian Sunday -- with church twice -- and the eccentricities of a mother-in-law who wrote out a check for $6,000 to stop Mormonism because she didn't believe in multiple marriage. Readers will enjoy the extraordinary living of an extraordinary family. A surprise -- and fun.