Little Gloria. . .Happy at Last
Not even Hollywood in its heyday could have dreamed up a melodrama so electrifying as the one that swirled around 10-year-old “Little Gloria” Vanderbilt in 1934 when she became the object of a scandalous custody battle between her beautiful but poor, and none too bright, mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and her rich, powerful aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney whose own private life included several lovers and a pseudonymous novel about lesbianism. Taking the court case as her focal point, and documenting it every step of the way, Goldsmith has produced a book of fabulous readability. It is the psychological perception she brings to her story that grips so intensely, however. What she is chronicling is the whole passing parade of American and international high society at a time of tumultuous transition when the old guard was giving way to the new “café” society. And what a cast of characters she has?everything from royals (Thelma, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt’s twin, was mistress to the Prince of Wales), grande dames, a rigid Irish Catholic Tammany judge, and a “devoted,” hideously possessive nurse, to the terrified little girl, told her mother might kill her. Over it all loomed the aura of the Lindbergh kidnapping. Goldsmith probes the motives, the secrets, the hidden longings of them all credibly and compassionately in a book that will sell and sell and sell. This book has it all.