THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF WALWORTH : A TALE OF MADNESS AND MURDER IN GILDED AGE AMERICA
by Geoffrey O'Brien
Saratoga Springs, in its heyday, was a tourist destination. Its healing waters brought people there in droves. For the aristocratic, it was an exclusive club.
The Walworth family ruled over by Chancellor Reuben Hyde was the most prominent family that fit right in with the romance of the place. Judge Walworth rose to fame by his legal successes and amassed quite a fortune. While he was virtuous, strict and orderly and ran his home that way, his son, Mansfield, was the complete opposite. Mansfield, who considered himself to be a spectacular writer (pulp fiction) would marry his stepsister Ellen and then later would abuse her, for years, with threatening letters.
In due time, their private lives would become public all because of a shooting.
American Gothic meets Poe. Corruption, religious conflict, madness (all hereditary), marital problems, violence, prisons, asylums.
O'Brien is brilliant in how he sets up the characters with all of their strange personalities and quirks. He effortlessly writes about 19th century New York and holds you spellbound from the first page to the last.
Not to be missed.