The Golden World and Fatal Marriage of Ann and Billy Woodward
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 Braudy (What the Movies Made Me Do, 1985, etc.) sets out to do a background book on a high-society ``murder'' already addressed fictionally by Dominick Dunne in The Two Mrs. Grenvilles and Truman Capote in Answered Prayers--and finds herself defending the so- called murderess. Although Ann Woodward was never indicted for murdering her husband, William Woodward, Jr., his mother, Elsie, spread the rumor that Ann had deliberately killed Billy--and spread it first by insinuating that she herself had had the killing covered up for the sake of her grandsons. In Capote's vile version, Ann shot Billy in the shower, then dragged his body (with the butler's help) down the hall to the doorway of his bedroom. By the time Braudy finishes with the facts, there's no doubt that both Capote and Dunne were swimming in fantasy, that the death was an accident (Ann apparently thought that Billy was an intruder), and that Ann was victimized by the snobbery of the ultrarich, who exiled her after Billy's death. Braudy sticks to a weave of impressively fine detail taken from over a thousand interviews, though occasionally one wonders about her recording the inner thoughts of her fatal pair. But her cool drawing of the Woodwards' social background, their casual spending of immense sums, and their hobnobbing with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor is jaw-dropping. Ann, born to poor country folk in Kansas, chose early to better herself as a Powers model. She danced nights in an upscale Manhattan chorus line and was a respected radio actress by day when she met shy, virginal, playboy Billy. When married, their greatest claim to fame was their racing stable and fantastically fast horse, Nashua. Both were adulterers and engaged in rages before sex: What happened to them can be seen as the result of unrestrained immaturity. Hypnotic, though Braudy keeps a cool mask on her prose. (One hundred photographs.)

Pub Date: Aug. 17th, 1992
ISBN: 0-394-53247-3
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1992