Journalist and screenwriter Greenfield (Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones, 2006, etc.) pens a eulogy for the 1960s with his portrayal of the ascent and downfall of two upper-class wanderers.
Descended from old money, 20-somethings Susan “Puss” Coriat and Tommy Weber lived off their trust funds, rubbing elbows with Britain’s elite as they discovered their callings—Tommy as a race-car driver, Puss as an actress. By 1964, the couple was married with two baby boys, and they soon fell into the drug experimentation of the mid-’60s. On a trip to the Greek islands with her children in tow, Puss suffered a schizophrenic episode. With her institutionalized, Tommy took charge of the children, soon befriending Keith Richards and staying with the Rolling Stones in France during the recording of Exile on Main St. It was the peak before the fall for both the ’60s and the lives of Puss and Tommy. By 1971, heroin and cocaine became the mainstays of a scene once limited to LSD and marijuana, and Tommy fell into heavy abuse. Puss, as happened with more than a few of the “European hippie jet-set scene,” committed suicide. Tommy then couch-surfed around Europe with his children, hanging out with stars and scammers, even cooking up plans to free Timothy Leary, then a fugitive in Switzerland. Fast-forward a couple decades. Son Jake became a well-known actor, starring in NBC’s Medium, while Charley became a musician and Web designer. After abusing his body for decades, Tommy died in 2006. To sum up the turbulent decade, the author visited Puss’ grave, writing that, along with her physical remains lies “the spirit of an age long since gone, a moment in time when those engaged in a grand social experiment did everything they could to break free from all constraints.”
Though it often reads like an extended society gossip column, the narrative is studded with enough trivia and name-dropping to engage ex-hippies and other fans of ’60s culture.