Starr Faithfull in New York

Although Starr Faithfull lived for only 25 years, she inspired several authors to write about her. Born January 26, 1906 in Evanston, IL, Starr died in June 1931 after a Long Island boat party.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Memory Book of Starr Faithfull

The Memory Book of Starr Faithfull
Author: Gloria Vanderbilt

Book summary: It is June 1931 when the battered body of a beautiful young woman washes up on the shores of New York. Police are stunned soon after when they discover her "Memory Book," a diary containing passages of eroticism and the initials of Andrew J. Peters, the former mayor of Boston. This recreation of the diary which offers a glimpse into the illicit relationship between a child and the prominent man who was like a father to her.
Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
Starr Faithful was a reticent, studious and beautiful young woman whose death in 1931 at age 25 gave rise to rumors of sexual misconduct. Vanderbilt (Never Say Good-bye) makes a misguided attempt to recreate the mysterious Starr's diary, which she called her "Memory Book," and which disappeared shortly after her death. Beginning when she is 11, Starr writes to "Mem," chronicling her maturation as affected by the erotic obsession of her cousin Andrew J. Peters, Boston's Social Register mayor 34 years Starr's senior. His avuncular interest in her education veils years of damaging sexual exploitation before Starr's social-climbing mother learns the truth. Starr's breakdown and subsequent delusional relationship with a ship's surgeon bring the guilty party to light. The flavors and excesses of post-WWI society are captured dead on here-with appearances by personalities (Aimee Semple McPherson, Carl Jung), places (the Cotton Club) and even ships (the Carpathia, the Franconia)- but these historical details cannot compensate for the novel's mundane portrayals and ultimately static tone. Moreover, Vanderbilt's period accuracy includes the cloying lingo perhaps favored by flappers but apt to prove nauseating to the modern reader (the ether that Starr's cousin uses to sedate her is termed "creamy dreamy"). As a psychological profile, this is intriguing guesswork-though a trivial and disappointing read. Literary Guild selection.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
Vanderbilt bases her second novel on the scandal surrounding the death of a beautiful young socialite in 1931.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
Based on a true story, Gloria Vanderbilt's latest novel attempts to unravel the mysterious life and death of Starr Faithfull. In June 1931, Starr's battered body washed up on a New York beach. Soon after her death, the diary that she called her "Memory Book" was discovered by police. Passages in the diary revealed that Starr had been sexually abused since the age of 11 by her uncle, the mayor of Boston at the time. Despite the lurid details in the diary, charges were never brought against him, and as public interest dwindled, the diary and accompanying scandal quietly disappeared. Using newspaper reports of the death and the few excerpts from the diary that were leaked to the press, Vanderbilt has persuasively re-created the life of an introspective child and the tormented woman she later became. The novel works both as an absorbing portrait of the sumptuous lifestyle of the privileged classes in the 1920s and 1930s and as the sad chronicle of an anguished life that slowly spiraled into madness. Kathleen Hughes

From Kirkus Reviews
This ludicrous recreation of an early 20th century diary by poor-little-rich-girl Vanderbilt (Never Say Goodbye, 1989, etc.) proves definitively that being famous is in no way equivalent to being talented. Despite her fatuous name, Starr Faithfull was an actual person whose mysterious death in 1931 led the police to discover her diary, which revealed that her cousin Andrew J. Peters, who had served as mayor of Boston, had sexually abused her beginning when she was 11 and he was 45. After the investigation, the journal disappeared. Vanderbilt begins in 1917 on Faithfull's 11th birthday, and the sugary tone that poisons all the entries is immediately apparent. Faithfull soon begins pretentiously calling her journal a ''Memory Book'' and addressing it directly as ''Mem.'' Daily incidents are reported fastidiously, punctuated with plenty of phrases like ''Oh Mem, I can't wait!'' and other fey touches meant to lend little-girl innocence. Faithfull comes across as a simpering brat (''Lucy Edwina and I are the most important girls in school now that Cousin A. is mayor of Boston''), and her repetitiously similar upper-crust tales of Christmas and dancing school all run together. Even the abuse by Peters (whom Faithfull nicknames ''Fou'' because those are his initials in a secret code that she created) is meaningless fluff from this spoiled child's point of view. He plies her with a bottled substance (presumably ether) that Faithfull refers to as ''creamy dreamy'' because of the sensations it causes, and engages her in games of ''make the corn grow.'' Occasionally Vanderbilt appears to recall that this is meant to be a historical novel, so she has Faithfull pen a line like ''A very terrible thing has happened in Russia, Mem. The Bolsheviks executed Czar Nicholas II and all his family.'' In 1924 Faithfull moves from Boston to New York City, where she starts hanging out with a bad crowd, then becomes obsessed with a man. Hers is a sad, perhaps even interesting story that deserved better treatment. Painfully shallow. (Literary Guild selection)
-- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
- [New York: Knopf; Distributor: Random House, 1994] -
309 pages; ISBN: 0394587758: . Gloria Vanderbilt. Subjects: Girls--Fiction.
* Format: Hardcover
* Publisher: New York: Knopf: Distributed By Random House, 1994

~ ( ) ~ ( ) ~ ( ) ~ ( ) ~ ( ) ~ ( ) ~
Come Up and See Mae online

~ ( ) ~ ( ) ~ ( ) ~ ( ) ~ ( ) ~ ( ) ~