Sunday, May 31, 2009

Surviving High Society

A Memoir
By Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland

What's it really like to be part of affluent society? Surviving High Society is author Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland's tell-all memoir revealing the truth of living in an elite world.

To know oneself, one should know one's roots. But most people do not expose decades of secrets and dishonesty as Elizabeth did. She has captured these tribulations with grace and candor in her memoir.

Born in 1940 to a single woman involved in an affair with a charming, womanizing and very married gentleman, Elizabeth was immediately put up for adoption. A wealthy couple in Connecticut took her in and gave her private school tuition, indulgent trips abroad and access to some of the most prominent characters of the age such as relatives of Ernest Hemingway, Katharine Hepburn and Eleanor Roosevelt. On one of many indulgent trips abroad, she met Lord Louis Mountbatten, uncle of Prince Philip of England. Yet, at home, even as her mother sat in their extravagant dining room,
summoning the live-in maid, Elizabeth prayed that her unpredictable adoptive brother would quiet down as the atmosphere in the room darkened with violence.

When Elizabeth's father died of a heart attack while on a family holiday in Europe, she fell deeper into the clutches of her rigid, controlling mother. The extremities of her mother's demeaning and possessive nature eventually led Elizabeth to seek solace in the "Snake Pit", a psychiatric hospital. She was administered both shock treatment and unnecessary medication, prescribed for 28 years which resulted in severe kidney disease. Between an impulsive, short-lived relationship with a gay man, and amid attempts to establish her own independence, Elizabeth began to recognize the depths of her mother's questionable moral standards. Then, Elizabeth's mother disinherited her except for a small trust. Ultimately, Elizabeth found romance and love and then began an exploration into her past. Happily, she reconnected with her natural family. She also uncovered other secrets which are shocking and bizarre. Her survival of the consequences of these secrets testifies to her own strength and humor.

My Review: I am one of those people that likes to read biographies and memoirs especially about those who have overcome adversity in their lives. Surviving High Society certainly fits in that category. I was born and raised in CT so I felt a connection to the places mentioned by the author especially since the author was born in the same generation as my parents.
There were times that the story seemed almost unbelievable especially in relation to being confined to a psych hospital in the early 80s. I worked in a pediatric psych facility just 9 years later and I can't imagine any of the administrators being bribed to keep someone there unnecessarily... but then our hospital was not for the rich nor famous.
Overall I enjoyed the book despite having no former knowledge of the author's life. A thank you to Bostick Communications for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

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