Wealth and Celebrity in the Gilded Age
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A biography of a Northeastern high-society couple of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Larz and Isabel Anderson’s marriage united two families of incredible wealth, political connections, and social prestige. She was born Isabel Weld Perkins and groomed for society life; she loved the outdoors and later became a prolific writer. He was an ambitious young man who became a diplomat and served a short term as the U.S. ambassador to Japan. They traveled the world, taking 75 trips together during their marriage; hobnobbed with royalty; and spent millions of dollars. Moskey (The Turkish Ambassador’s Residence and the Cultural History of Washington D.C., 2013, etc.) focuses on their residences in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia, effectively demonstrating how each home represented a different part of the Andersons’ lives, from their very private existence inside the walls of their Brookline mansion to the public gatherings that they hosted at their Dupont Circle domicile. The text is well-researched with ample notes, which gives it credence but also lends it a rather academic air. Larz kept journals and Isabel penned works that featured aspects of their relationship; they also documented house parties in their “dinner books,” and newspapers regularly reported on his career moves and her clothing choices. Thanks to the volume and diversity of primary source material, Moskey brings to light the profound affection in Larz and Isabel’s marriage in addition to the more public accounts of their activities and travels. Larz is shown to have missed his wife deeply when they were apart (“I felt terribly lonely without her to take care of me”), and his lighthearted journal entry about a moonlit sleigh ride in Brookline is delightful. The book’s focus remains firmly in the world of the white upper class, but Moskey mentions servants in several passages and addresses Larz’s racist attitudes. The account ends with Larz’s and Isabel’s deaths; curiously, though, the author doesn’t address their childlessness, which contributed to the tragic dismantling of their estate.

An extensively researched academic resource that will appeal to scholars and students of the Gilded Age.

Pub Date: April 4th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4917-8875-2
Page count: 258pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2017


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