Embers of Childhood: Growing Up a Whitney

Arcade: Skyhorse. Jun. 2019. 328p. illus. ISBN 9781948924009. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781948924016. MEMOIR
Biddle (The Whitney Women and the Museum They Made) recounts her life as a member of the prestigious Whitney family (she is a granddaughter of Whitney museum founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney) in the early 20th century. The author begins with details of her childhood in Aiken, SC, where a small band of blue bloods lived most of the year, holding fox hunts and social gatherings. Biddle further discusses other Whitney properties and members of the close-knit aristocratic community: her brother and vivacious half siblings as well as the nurses and teachers who shaped her life. Sprinkled throughout this work that reads a bit like a scrapbook are photos of fishing and hunting cabins and family events. The tone is mixed; both light reading with a nostalgic air that merges warm memories of an idyllic upbringing and the loneliness in a child whose parents were often away or emotionally distant.
VERDICT Though well written, this honest memoir of a privileged life will likely most appeal to those interested in the Whitneys. The specificity of its subject matter reaching a somewhat limited audience.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing