The names of Luisa Casati and Doris, Lady Castlerosse may well be unfamiliar, but Peggy Guggenheim may not. All three immensely wealthy ladies shared a passion for an unfinished Venetian palace, the Palazzo Venier dei Lioni, using it successively as a personal stage set, a society whirlpool and an astounding museum of modern art, the last of which continues to thrive today. Characters all, each led a wildly hedonistic life, consorted with the rich and famous, and indulged in private lives that made their contemporaries blush.

Gossip aside (lashings of that), this is social history at its best: thoroughly researched, frequently funny, and set in the most romantic city on earth.

 

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