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The Loveliest Woman in America    by Bibi Gaston Amazon.com order for
Loveliest Woman in America
by Bibi Gaston
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The Loveliest Woman in America: A Tragic Actress, Her Lost Diaries, and Her Granddaughter's Search for Home is a biography, but not a typical one. Instead of telling the story of one person's life, it tells of three people: actress Rosamond Pinchot Gaston, her son William Gaston, Jr., and the author, Patricia 'Bibi' Gaston.

Rosamond Pinchot was an actress whose career began in the way most girls dream of she was discovered. While crossing the Atlantic at the age of nineteen, she was approached by Max Reinhardt who was working on a play called The Miracle. Rosamond's debut met with great success. But although she tried to further that success in Hollywood and in her marriage to William 'Big Bill' Gaston, she never did. With her marriage dissolved and her career going nowhere, Rosamond took her own life at the age of thirty-three. Rosamond was survived by her two sons, William 'Little Billy' Gaston, Jr. and James Gaston. However, Little Billy could not help but follow in the philandering ways of his namesake, and just like Big Bill, left his wife and children. Because of this, Bibi Gaston never knew much about her father's family until he died and she eventually discovered her grandmother's lost diaries.

While the format of The Loveliest Woman in America is interesting (three cycles of three chapters with each chapter focusing on a different generation), the writing can be dry at times. Long, factual paragraphs distance readers from ever forming a relationship with Rosamond, Little Billy, or even Bibi, herself. Also, while the book tells about three generations and their relationships (or lack thereof), it does not really offer any topic to entice the average reader to stick with the material.

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