The Beneficiary: Fortune, Misfortune, and the Story of My Father

Riverhead. Apr. 2019. 288p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781594634192. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780698195752. BIOG
Journalist Scott (A Singular Woman) presents a heart-wrenching and engrossing ode to family, tradition, and the complexities of inheritable wealth in her latest work. The author applies her journalistic style to the story of her father, Robert Montgomery Scott, confronting his decisions and eccentricities with a powerful, familial examination. As much as this is about a single man, it is also a chronicle of his family—beginning with his railroad baron great-great-grandfather and including his grandmother, who is thought to have inspired the character of Tracy Lord in the 1940 film The Philadelphia Story—and their 800-acre estate, Ardrossan, along Philadelphia's Main Line. Scott's exploration of American aristocracy situates well with today's economic climate, and the author does not hesitate in drawing parallels and posing tough questions for those living in the new Gilded Age.
VERDICT Scott's account reads as lyrical nonfiction and extends beyond her own family to shed light on America's elite from the Gilded Age through the present day. Recommended for most memoir collections.
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