June 16, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Phantom of Fifth Avenue

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Meryl Gordon
publisher
Grand Central Publishing
genre
Biography
We gave it an A-

She was a pampered Jazz Age socialite — once the toast of Manhattan society — who grew up in a 121-room house, the biggest in New York City; her father, a copper magnate, was one of the richest men in the country. And yet when Huguette Clark died in 2011 at age 104, almost no one remembered who she was. She had sequestered herself, first in her apartment and then in a hospital room, for decades. Even members of her own family had not seen her since 1968. How a vibrant young woman morphed into a doll-collecting recluse who spent her afternoons watching The Flintstones sounds like a dreary tale, and at times, it is. But as Gordon’s fine reporting reveals, it’s also a deeply fascinating one. A-

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