The Astor Orphan

The Astor Orphan

Alexandra Aldrich

Autobiography / Memoir / Nonfiction

Alexandra Aldrich, a direct descendant of the famous Astor dynasty, grew up in the servants' quarters of Rokeby, the forty-three-room Hudson Valley mansion built by her ancestors. Her childhood was one of bohemian neglect and real privation. But it was fairly stable until the summer of her tenth year, when her father took up with an alluring interloper, Giselle.Alexandra idolized her father, Rokeby's charismatic lord of misrule, who had attended elite private schools as a child but inherited only landed property, not money. To him, she says, "poverty was amusing, a delightful challenge." All of the family's resources--emotional and financial--went to the maintenance of the Astor house and legacy. If the family had sold the house and its 450 acres, they all would have been able to live comfortably. Instead, Alexandra and her parents lived precariously in the grand house, scavenging for the next meal. Her mother, an icy Polish artist, disguised her maternal...
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