THE INCREDIBLE MRS. CHADWICK: The Most Notorious Woman of Her Age by John S. Crosbie

THE INCREDIBLE MRS. CHADWICK: The Most Notorious Woman of Her Age

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A superficial, fictionalized version of the life of Betsy Bigley--a late-Victorian girl from the Canadian sticks who grew up to con a bunch of implausibly dumb bankers out of millions of bucks. It was a lot easier in those days of non-computerized bank accounts and credit cards to kite checks--her main ploy--to which she gave a flair (and skillfully aroused media interest) by pretending to be Andrew Carnegie's illegitimate daughter. She did it the way women in bygone eras generally did it--with charm, occasional sex, and feminine helplessness (she was about as helpless as Ma Barker). Her taste seemed as garishly vulgar as William Randolph Hearst--but was it wholly by dumb chance that she acquired paintings by Whistler and Turner? When her trickery (as golden girls and boys all must) turned to dust, she spent the last years of her life in a prison, occupied mainly in planning her funeral. Unfortunately, this book is a mindless and insufficiently researched account of what must have been a fascinating woman--part-time clairvoyant and whore, full-time charlatan--whose temporary victories over some of the lesser robber barons of the day should cheer the heart of every Ms.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1975
Publisher: McGraw-Hill