Book Recommendation: The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki
I enjoyed reading the latest work of historical fiction, The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post (2022) by The New York Times Bestselling American Author Allison Pataki and highly recommend it for your reading list. Click on the links to learn more about the author and this novel. Dolores and I enjoy every visit to Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington, DC, the home of Marjorie Merriweather Post.
Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . .
So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar's treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood's biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweather Post lived an epic life few could imagine.
Marjorie's journey began gluing cereal boxes in her father's barn as a young girl. No one could have predicted that C. W. Post's Cereal Company would grow into the General Foods empire and reshape the American way of life, with Marjorie as its heiress and leading lady. Not content to stay in her prescribed roles of high-society wife, mother, and hostess, Marjorie dared to demand more, making history in the process. Before turning thirty she amassed millions, becoming the wealthiest woman in the United States. But it was her life-force, advocacy, passion, and adventurous spirit that led to her stunning legacy.
And yet Marjorie's story, though full of beauty and grandeur, set in the palatial homes she built such as Mar-a-Lago, was equally marked by challenge and tumult. A wife four times over, Marjorie sought her happily-ever-after with the blue-blooded party boy who could not outrun his demons, the charismatic financier whose charm turned to betrayal, the international diplomat with a dark side, and the bon vivant whose shocking secrets would shake Marjorie and all of society. Marjorie did everything on a grand scale, especially when it came to love.
Bestselling and acclaimed author Allison Pataki has crafted an intimate portrait of a larger-than-life woman, a powerful story of one woman falling in love with her own voice and embracing her own power while shaping history in the process. Goodreads
I love books. I love reading them, I love discussing them, I love writing them. I love immersing myself into a great story and having the opportunity to see a new world through a fresh set of eyes. My 100-year-old grandmother once told me: “As long as I have a good book, I will never be lonely.” I feel the same way.
I guess I should have known from the beginning that I wanted to be a writer. I had the great fortune of growing up in upstate New York, in the Hudson River Valley. As the third of four kids, I would often wander off into the woods behind my backyard and spend hours, alone, totally absorbed in my own imaginings. I’d create characters and scenes and lots of drama. I still remember many of the characters and storylines I first imagined at around age nine. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I loved staging plays with my siblings and cousins. I recall the difficulty of trying to get my 7-year-old cousins to remember their lines from Romeo and Juliet.
At Yale I majored in English and I could not believe my good luck – suddenly I was able to spend hours doing nothing but reading, writing, and talking about books. I was supposed to spend hours on end in the library. And I got to pretend that it was work! After college, hoping to blend my love for English and History, I moved to New York City and pursued a career in journalism. Although I enjoyed so much of the work I was doing, I was sort of a misfit in the industry. I did want to study the major events unfolding in our world, and the way in which individuals reacted to and shaped these events – but the panic-inducing deadlines and the rapid-fire pace of the 24-hour news cycle were not for me.
So, in my free time, I began to write fiction. It started out as a post-workday release, a way to unwind after the hectic newsroom. Before long, I found myself completely consumed with this new hobby. Suddenly, I was rushing home from work to grab my laptop and get to writing. I’d find myself surprised on the subway, at the grocery store, out for dinner, with some new idea for some scene or character or a piece of dialogue, and I’d run back to my apartment, worried that I might lose the idea before I could get it down on paper.
Energized and encouraged by this early part of the process, I kept going. Writing became, for me, a guilty pleasure. It was an indulgence for weeknights and weekends. It was the fun I got to have after work. Four years and three completed novels later, I realized that perhaps I was in the wrong line of work. Perhaps writing novels, even though it seemed too fun to actually be work, could in fact be my future. I was so fortunate to meet my agent at Dupree Miller and Associates and by the fall of 2012, we had signed a deal to publish my first historical fiction novel, The Traitor’s Wife, with Simon and Schuster.
That was such a fun debut project for so many reasons, but particularly because of how close to home (quite literally) the setting was. Like The Traitor’s Wife, my second project, The Accidental Empress, was set in a rich and captivating time period that had a personal significance to me, but told from a fresh perspective. My protagonist, Sisi (also known as Empress Elisabeth of Austria), was a woman who had a front row seat to history, though her story remains largely untold.
My third book, Sisi: Empress On Her Own, picks up where The Accidental Empress left off, completing the saga of Empress Sisi, one of history’s most fascinating leading ladies. Against the glittering backdrop of the Habsburg Court and the rich, romantic, and volatile time period—marked by pivotal events such as the opening of the Suez Canal, Vienna’s World Exhibition, and the lead up to WWI—Sisi, the beloved “Fairy Queen,” won hearts and broke hearts, fighting battles both epic and poignantly intimate as a woman well ahead of her time during a true Golden Age in European history.
My fourth book, Where the Light Falls, takes readers to the riveting time of the French Revolution. Three years after the storming of the Bastille, the streets of Paris are roiling with the spirit of revolution. The citizens of France are enlivened by the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The monarchy of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette has been dismantled—with the help of the guillotine—and a new nation is rising in its place. Jean-Luc, an idealistic young lawyer, moves his wife, Marie, and their infant son from a comfortable life in Marseille to Paris, in the hopes of joining the cause. André, the son of a denounced nobleman, has evaded execution by joining the new French army. And Sophie, a beautiful, young aristocratic widow, embarks on her own fight for independence against her powerful, vindictive uncle.
My fifth book, Beauty in the Broken Places, was a nonfiction journey that I never expected to take, after my husband nearly died from a stroke at age thirty. While Dave remained in a state of amnesia, I found that the best hope I had of keeping myself and my husband — and then our newborn baby, who arrived a few months later — afloat was by writing. Writing to Dave, writing to the version of Dave who was no longer with me, writing even to the version of myself who had been lost with that stroke. It turned into a book that not only allowed me to cope and process and heal, but also a story that I hope can resonate with or perhaps even help others who have suddenly found themselves in “The Club of the Bad Thing.” Beauty in the Broken Places published in May, 2018.
In May 2019 I took another detour in my writing journey — this one an absolute joy, as I published my first children’s book, Nelly Takes New York. The companion book to that, Poppy Takes Paris, comes out May 2020.
The Queen’s Fortune, (February 2020), comes from a historical heroine who presents herstory at its finest! It’s the little-known life story of Desiree Clary Bernadotte, the extraordinary woman who captured Napoleon’s heart, created a dynasty, and changed the course of history.
And The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post, my latest historical fiction novel (February 2022), tells the stunning story of the Twentieth Century heiress, philanthropist, trailblazer and leading lady, Marjorie Merriweather Post. Post was a larger-than-life woman, and her legacy still shapes and inspires our world today.
I hope you’ll have as much fun reading my books as I have writing them.
Orchids, Longwood Gardens Conservatory, Kennett Square,
Pennsylvania USA IMG 1444
Canon PowerShot G11 Camera
Photograph by Roy Kelley
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs