FINE ARTS

Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend

Grand Central. Sept. 2017. 528p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781455588749. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781455588732. BIOG
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OrangeReviewStarFrom her birth into the Lambert pharmaceutical family through her second marriage to billionaire Paul Mellon, Bunny Mellon's life was one of privilege. Her friends and associates comprised a who's who of politicians, dignitaries, financiers, and socialites, while Mellon herself drew recognition as an art collector, philanthropist, style innovator, and, particularly, landscape designer (one of her renowned accomplishments was designing the White House Rose Garden at the request of close friend and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy). Gordon (Mrs. Astor Regrets; The Phantom of Fifth Avenue) captures the multiple components of this memorable woman's life, skillfully setting the stage with absorbing details about the family, cultural, and historical elements that helped shape Mellon's world, engagingly sharing the many facets of her 103 years and event-filled journey. The essence of Mellon's personality—independent and deeply enigmatic—shines throughout. The exhaustive and original research, drawn from journals, letters, personal interviews, and previous conversations with Mellon, is smoothly integrated into this admirable work. More than a biography, this title also reflects the people, places, trends, and events of the 20th century and beyond.
VERDICT This well-written work transcends one woman's story to present keen insights into the complex fabric of American culture and history. It should appeal to a broad audience.

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