The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan
The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home

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Kiernan’s wider lens on the Gilded Age compensates for her protagonists’ insipidness. The book’s vitality lies in the details she reveals about the architects, writers, artists and peers of the Vanderbilts who spent time at Biltmore.
-NY Times

Synopsis

From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Girls of Atomic City comes the fascinating true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion Biltmore—the largest, grandest residence ever built in the United States.

Orphaned at a young age, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser claimed lineage from one of New York’s best known families. She grew up in Newport and Paris, and her engagement and marriage to George Vanderbilt was one of the most watched events of Gilded Age society. But none of this prepared her to be mistress of Biltmore House.

Before their marriage, the wealthy and bookish Vanderbilt had dedicated his life to creating a spectacular European-style estate on 125,000 acres of North Carolina wilderness. He summoned the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to tame the grounds, collaborated with celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to build a 175,000-square-foot chateau, filled it with priceless art and antiques, and erected a charming village beyond the gates. Newlywed Edith was now mistress of an estate nearly three times the size of Washington, DC and benefactress of the village and surrounding rural area. When fortunes shifted and changing times threatened her family, her home, and her community, it was up to Edith to save Biltmore—and secure the future of the region and her husband’s legacy.

The story of Biltmore spans World Wars, the Jazz Age, the Depression, and generations of the famous Vanderbilt family, and features a captivating cast of real-life characters including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Teddy Roosevelt, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, Henry James, and Edith Wharton. The Last Castle is the unique American story of how the largest house in America flourished, faltered, and ultimately endured to this day.
 

About Denise Kiernan

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Denise Kiernan and Joseph D'Agnese are the authors of Signing Their Lives Away and Signing Their Rights Away. Both are winners of Education Press Association awards. They live in North Carolina.
 
Published September 26, 2017 by Touchstone. 401 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography, Crafts, Hobbies & Home. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 15 2017
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Last Castle
All: 2 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Below average
on Jun 27 2017

The couple had one child, but the author hardly looks at her relationship with her parents, focusing mostly on the family’s financial woes, which became increasingly dire. One-dimensional characters undermine the potential drama of life within a castle.

Read Full Review of The Last Castle: The Epic Sto... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Vicky Ward on Oct 11 2017

Kiernan’s wider lens on the Gilded Age compensates for her protagonists’ insipidness. The book’s vitality lies in the details she reveals about the architects, writers, artists and peers of the Vanderbilts who spent time at Biltmore.

Read Full Review of The Last Castle: The Epic Sto... | See more reviews from NY Times

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