The Astor Orphan
- 272 Pages
- On-Sale Date: 04/08/2014
- ISBN: 9780062207951
- Trim Size: 5.313in x 8.000in x 0.613in
The Astor Orphan is an unflinching debut memoir by a direct descendant of John Jacob Astor, Alexandra Aldrich.
She brilliantly tells the story of her eccentric, fractured family; her 1980s childhood of bohemian neglect in the squalid attic of Rokeby, the family’s Hudson Valley Mansion; and her brave escape from the clan. Aldrich reaches back to the Gilded Age when the Astor legacy began to come undone, leaving the Aldrich branch of the family penniless and squabbling over what was left.
Illustrated with black-and-white photographs that bring this faded world into focus, The Astor Orphan is written with the grit of The Glass Castle and set amid the aristocratic decay of Grey Gardens.
Alexandra Aldrich lived at Rokeby, the house at the heart of this story, until she left to attend boarding school at the age of fourteen. She later moved to Poland, where she studied violin and history, and then back to the United States, where she taught high school English and converted to Orthodox Judaism.
“A sparklingly mischievous debut. . . . Aldrich’s narrative tidily and fondly bears witness to the inexorable unraveling of a storied genealogy.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Novelistic. . . . Vividly gothic. . . . It’s a trick to tell a story this rich and complicated through the eyes of a child without losing the subtleties of character and nuances of history, but Aldrich pulls it off with aplomb.” - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“It’s the highest of compliments to say that a memoir reads like fiction, and Alexandra Aldrich accomplishes this in her phenomenal debut. With swift, haunting prose, she breathes new life into the Astor clan.” - Susannah Cahalan, bestselling author of Brain on Fire
“A beautifully-rendered family saga—full of fires, affairs, aristocrats and illegitimate children. At the center is an endearing heroine, whose eccentric childhood on the Grey Gardens-style Rokeby estate would make Dickens gasp. . . . Splendid.” - Jennifer Vanderbes, author of Easter Island and Strangers at the Feast
“Evocative. . . . Aldrich astutely portrays a colorful cast of aunts, uncles, cousins and hangers-on—clinging to the family legacy long after the money is gone. One can’t help but cheer as she breaks away from the others to make a name for herself.” - Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them