In his heyday, Paul Mellon was the fifth-richest man in America, heir to an oil and banking fortune of vast proportions.

His wife, Bunny Mellon, who inherited considerable wealth of her own (improbably, through the invention of LISTERINE), became a perfect foil, with looks to match, sharing his taste for travel, collecting, fashion, design and horticulture (she designed, inter alia, the White House Rose Garden, by invitation of her friend, Jacqueline Kennedy). in so doing, she became the stuff of legend and a social landmark.

This book does not pretend to be literature; but with the benefit of private access to Mrs. Mellon’s diaries and letters, coupled with 175 separate interviews and no less than 500 pages of text, this overdue biography fills a notable social gap, and is as complete a study as we’re likely to get.

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