The Silver Swan: In Search of Doris Duke
Such a mysterious person, this Doris Duke. It’s almost like she didn’t want anything much of herself left behind for posterity, as she was going to live as she pleased. And she certainly had the money and will to do so. The author was granted free rein to go through Duke’s papers for this book, but she just didn’t write letters much, and shunned publicity, as she was hyper-private. Doris was a very tall, athletic woman, at least six foot in her prime, and she enjoyed physical activities like swimming in the ocean and tennis. I’ve read a previous book about her years ago, but I don’t recall much from it. Much seems to be made of her being expunged from the Social Register, but it seems to have meant nothing to Doris herself, who probably made light of the fact.
I enjoyed reading about her life, her marriages, her parents and brother, along with the power company and university and offshoots that the family left as their legacy. I’ve always enjoyed reading about philanthropists and imagined being able to do that and how it must feel so wonderful to help others and leave behind something that will live on and do good things for people long after you are gone. It’s just too bad Doris Duke didn’t leave more of herself behind for us to get to know her better. It doesn’t really feel like there’s much of her in the book, despite all of the paperwork that was used to research her, she still seems quite ephemeral and out of reach. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Sallie Bingham, and the publisher.
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux – 338 pages
Publication: Apr 7, 2020
My review: 3.5/5 Stars
The Author- Sallie Bingham is the author of several memoirs, short-story collections, novels, plays, and poetry collections. Her work has been widely anthologized and has appeared in the Atlantic, New Letters, Southwest Review, and other publications. Sallie’s books include Passion & Prejudice and The Silver Swan.