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A parable for the new age of inequality: part family history, part detective story, part history of a vanishing class, and a vividly compelling exploration of the degree to which an inheritance - financial, cultural, genetic - conspired in one person's self-destruction.

Land, houses, and money tumbled from one generation to the next on the eight-hundred-acre estate built by Scott's investment banker great-grandfather on Philadelphia's Main Line. There was an obligation to protect it, a license to enjoy it, a duty to pass it on - but it was impossible to know in advance how all that extraordinary good fortune might influence the choices made over a lifetime.

In this warmly felt tale of an American family's fortunes, journalist Janny Scott excavates the rarefied world that shaped her charming, unknowable father, Robert Montgomery Scott, and provides an incisive look at the weight of inheritance, the tenacity of addiction, and the power of buried secrets.

Some beneficiaries flourished, like Scott's grandmother, Helen Hope Scott, a socialite and celebrated horsewoman said to have inspired Katherine Hepburn's character in the play and Academy Award-winning film The Philadelphia Story. For others, including the author's father, she concludes, the impact was more complex.

Bringing her journalistic talents, light touch, and crystalline prose to this powerful story of a child's search to understand a parent's puzzling end, Scott also raises questions about our new Gilded Age. New fortunes are being amassed, new estates are being born. Does anyone wonder how it will all play out, one hundred years hence?

About the Author

Janny Scott

Janny Scott has been a reporter for The New York Times since 1994. She is currently assigned to the metropolitan news section, where she has covered demographics, regional economics and housing. She has also written cultural news as well as articles for the Week in Review and The Book Review. Ms. Scott was a member of the team awarded the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for "How Race Is Lived In America," a 15-part series of articles examining racial experiences and attitudes. She was a part of the team that reported and wrote "Class Matters," a series on social class that appeared in 2005 and has since been published as a book. In collaboration with another colleague, Ms. Scott also conceived the idea for "Portraits of Grief," a feature that ran at the back of the "Nation Challenged" section of The Times every day for 15 weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. "Portraits" was a series of miniature profiles of people who died in the hijackings and in the destruction of the World Trade Center. The series elicited a reader response unlike anything The Times had seen before. Janny Scott's first book, , was published by Riverhead on May 3, 2011. Before joining The Times, Ms. Scott was a reporter for The Los Angeles Times. She was also a reporter for The Record of Hackensack, N.J.; The Real Paper of Cambridge, Mass. ; and a contributing writer and columnist for Boston Magazine. Ms. Scott was born in Bala Cynwyd, Penn., but because her father's job took her family to England for several years, she attended high school at a British boarding school called Benenden in Kent. She received a B.A. degree from Harvard University in 1978. Ms. Scott has two children--a 14-year-old daughter named Mia Ritter who is in 8th grade, and an 11-year-old son, Owen Ritter, who is in 6th grade.

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