The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love, and Art in Venice

15 CDs. Recorded Bks. Aug. 2018. 16:45 hrs. ISBN 9781980004530. $123.75. digital download. BIOG
This biography provides an intimate look into the lives of Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse, and Peggy Guggenheim, the eccentric residents of the Palazzo Venier in Venice during the early to mid-20th century. Left incomplete owing to financial difficulties, the 18th-century building had become dilapidated by the time the Marchesa Casati transformed it into a Gothic background for her theatrical parties. Believing her life to be an art form, she wore outlandish costumes and kept a menagerie, including a cheetah she took for gondola rides and a cobra she wore around her neck. Castlerosse, a professional courtesan, lacked Casati's flair yet attracted film stars and politicians. Guggenheim transformed the palazzo into a showplace for her modern art collection. Mackrell (Flappers) mostly succeeds in presenting an entertaining and informative portrait of these women, despite dwelling excessively on their sex lives and personal problems and neglecting Venice's importance during this tumultuous era. Julia Franklin's clear narration captures just the right tone.
VERDICT Recommended for biography fans interested in a gossipy look at Venetian society and three of its most unconventional personalities. ["This work skillfully weaves historical details into absorbing biographical profiles while also capturing the charm of Venice": LJ 9/1/17 review of the Thames & Hudson hc.]—Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
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