Saturday, July 22, 2017

An Excellent Beach Read

Although people shuffling past you on your towel on the sand may wonder why you are laughing so hard.  The title of this thigh-slapper - "Oops! Forgot sun screen there!" - is Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden  279 pages  $26

Burden is the 6th generation (or something like that) member of the Vanderbilt family.  One of her ancestors, a Burden, married into it and everyone had money ever after. 

She was brought up in a world where her grandfather would pick up his phone at any of their four residences and tell his secretary, "We're having important people for lunch tomorrow and I want grouse.  Not in season you think?  My August calendar says it is.  Yes, in Scotland.  Take the 8:30  flight and get a dozen."  His grandmother ran her three huge houses with a grand total of 200 servants.  He had to make do with a skeletal staff of 20 for his four houses.

Burden's mother was unusual to say the least.  After Burden's father committed suicide when she was 14 (and she and her brother were sent to school that day as if nothing had happened) her mother went husband-hunting and on a postcard from Cozumel, she wrote "Guess what!  Peter and I were married last week!  The dogs are fine and we've moved to Virginia."

And this is how Burden's father died.  He called his shrink, said he was very depressed, got a prescription, went home and wrote his obituary, put it in an envelope marked "Press", drove himself to the DC city morgue, parked out in front and blew his brains out.    

Burden amazingly seems to have survived a very unusual childhood and has certainly written an engaging account of her life. 

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