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Saturday, December 08, 2012

A True American Lady

This book is a fitting biography of Susan Mary Alsop, and has many of the qualities that she had herself.  It's charming, engaging and interesting.  Anyone interested in American history will find this a pleasure to read.

Alsop had a rather sad childhood, traumatised by the loss of her beloved sister and father.  She also endured a judgmental mother.  But the wealthy and privileged debutante, descended from one of America's first families, fell in love at a young age with Bill Patten, and life changed when she married Patten and lived in Paris after the Second World War.  Here she went a Sabrina-style transformation from a shy young woman to a popular and fashionable one, who was sought after for her opinions.  Dressed in Dior and other haute-couture designers, she associated with Paris high society.

The book tells the tale of Alsop's 'grand affair' with the British Ambassador to France, Duff Cooper, her two marriages, and how she became a formidable and influential woman in Washington politics and society.  At quite a late age, Alsop also collected her letters from Paris to Marietta Tree, and wrote popular history books while others in her class who were just as rich and privileged, in her words, 'didn't do anything'.

Many biographers fall in love with their subjects, and I felt that the author was too sympathetic to Alsop at times.  She caused her son a great deal of heartache, for example, and this wasn't really adequately dealt with in the book.

However, I would like a 'hard copy' of this book.  I hope that it has pictures - the Kindle version doesn't.

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