Leave it to Laurence Leamer, the best-selling author known for getting the inside story on his elusive subjects, to take us behind the walls of America's most exclusive enclave of wealth and privilege. Here Leamer tells a braided story involving a socialite determined to make it to the top of Palm Beach society, two infamous murders, and a powerful society reporter. As a backdrop, Leamer tells the story of the clash between old money and new, religion and status, and the love, lust, and fatal hatreds that determine the shape of a fiercely protected society. The cast of characters include trophy wives, trophy husbands, purported gigolos, glamorous widows, a pioneering gay couple, a wildly irreverent event planner, a sociopathic multimillionaire, and an elegant society queen. For 100 years, Palm Beach has been a fantasyland nurtured by, and maintained for, the megawealthy.
In the end, Leamer's tale of money, murder, and mad pretension reveals a darker strain. Uncovering that strain, the author writes, "turned into as fascinating, in some cases as shocking, and always as unexpected a journey as I have ever taken."
©2009 Laurence Leamer; (P)2009 Tantor
"Madness offers buckets of heart-warmimg Schadenfreude for all." (The Washington Post)
"The book's highly visual vignettes dominated by divorce, infidelity, excessive drinking and violence produce a depressing picture of sad, angry, insecure and frequently nasty people hiding behind empty smiles, luxury cars and socially invisible servants." - (Publishers Weekly)
Very good, I found myself looking online while reading to look up the people and places being mentioned in the book. The author kept me wanting to hear more.
For those of us who "havenot" a must read (listen) for anyone who loves the tabloid-esque scandals of the Palm Beach rich. I love that the stories are scandalously current, unlike the old recycled stories we've heard countless times. Fantastic! Keep 'em coming!! ten stars not five!!!!
I only finished reading it because it was for a book club. The author writes like he's an onlooker of this society, but he's right in the thick of the lives of the society that he stereotypes negatively in every word.
I live in west palm beach, the "other" side of the water and am wondering who will write about the law suits this book should stir up.
Karen L. Syed, Reader/Author/Publisher
Extravagant dinner parties at culturally prejudice clubs, and homophobic cronies who rule their domain with an iron fist and no mercy shine. Leamer takes us back to when the rich and political went to Palm Beach for seclusion and solace and mingled without worry of the filth of the lower class and Jews. Leamer spends a lot of time reminding us of the socially outcast community not welcome in paradise. The Palm Beach residents discover all too soon, nothing stays the same. The old die and the new take over. For most people, old money spends no differently than new, it just doesn't smell as musty.
Leamer tells of the infighting, the betrayals, and of the power of the cutting edge of the "Shiny Sheet," the local gossip/society column that could literally make or break a man or a woman. From the disgraces of social etiquette revealed at million dollar fund raisers to the erotic and unequaled bashes of the more recent residents. It never ceases to amaze me how writers find it such an easy tool to single out those who are different and try to cast them in a light that intimates that they are actually better than what they are, or worse at it were. In the case of Madness Under the Royal Palms, it is the Jews and the homosexuals.
Not a bad book. It was more than a little interesting in a hangnail kind of way. You know it'll hurt when you pull the skin, but you keep playing with it. I couldn't stop, but only because my morbid sense of curiosity kept at me. At the end of the book I don't know how Laurence Leamer fit into it all.
The betrayal seemed minimal and I found the stories not nearly as scandalous as sad. The way the residents, past and present, are portrayed is more pathetic than unique. The mental instability and lack of values give me cause to celebrate my ordinary existence. The deaths in this book, nothing spectacular. Just dead.
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