The Loveliest Woman in America


book

Bibi Gaston’s first book, “The Loveliest Woman in America,” published by Morrow/ Harper Collins in 2008, focused on the life of her grandmother, Rosamond Pinchot, niece of Pennsylvania governor Gifford Pinchot. Rosamond was a cousin to Edie Sedgwick; half sister of Mary Pinchot Meyer, JFK’s lover; friend to Eleanor Roosevelt and Elizabeth Arden.

Seventy years later, her granddaughter, a noted landscape architect, received Rosamond’s diaries and embarked on a search to discover the real Rosamond Pinchot.

Unearthing what appeared to be a glamorous fairy-tale existence, Bibi Gaston discovers the roots of the ties that bind and break a family, and uncovers the legacy of two great American dynasties torn apart by her grandmother’s untimely death. This is a tale of three lives and five generations, mothers and grandmothers, longing, holding on and letting go, men, beauty, diets, and letting beauty slip. This is the story of how we make the most of our brief, beautiful lives.

Reviews and Praise

Highly readable…compelling…The Loveliest Woman in America can be read as a companion to not just the classic novels and plays of the first third of the twentieth century – The House of Mirth, The Great Gatsby, Our Town, Appointment in Samarra – but as a social history as well…..The book is not only an exhumation of the past but a meditation, which Ms. Gaston shares with the reader, as she contemplates her own life at midpassage.
-- The Wild River Review
The Loveliest Woman in America is a story for all women who strive and struggle to lead meaningful and purposeful lives. In moving prose, the author weaves her grandmother Rosamond Pinchot’s deep connection to nature with that of her own. That connection becomes the constantly redeeming thread, weaving its way through the generations of a remarkable, passionate family whose legacy of service to the landscape and the environment are the DNA of today’s conservation efforts.
-- Sara Cedar Miller, Vice President, Central Park Historian and Park Photographer
Bibi Gaston has written a fascinating memoir that travels through three generations of an American family from a famous actress and beauty in the early part of the 20th century to her granddaughter in the early 21st century. It is a captivating story of these 2 women and the man they share-son to one and father to the other. Bibi’s voyage of discovery will enlighten and uplift you.
-- Ron McLarty, Author of 'The Memory of Running and Traveler'
Bibi Gaston’s hard-to-put down narrative mixes a Harvard Business School Case Study of American upper-class family dysfunction and tragedy, with entertainment history, with the most significant ingredient of all — the healing of the scars on her own heart. The whole business is a miracle.
-- Tappan Wilder, Literary Executor ,The estate of Thornton Wilder.
The Loveliest Woman in America is about a granddaughter’s search through familial silence for the grandmother, a beautiful and troubled actress, who committed suicide in the early thirties leaving two young sons and a powerful mystery. The book, wonderfully structured so the sense of time is mobile and continuous, moves back and forth through memory and discovery, is a compelling story with characters of such life and particularity, they jump off the page. It is the story of a granddaughter’s discovery of self as she uncovers her grandmother’s life. A real page turner.
-- Susan Shreve, author of 'A Student of Living Things and Warm Springs'
…a fascinating memoir… Her writing is deft and sure. It plumbs the stuff of life in a way that is, in turn, poetic, wry, humorous and, above all, spoken with the voice of truth and compassion…. As a landscape architect, Bibi Gaston knows the topography of the earth. With “The Loveliest Woman in America,” she gives readers the topography of the heart of a family, and in it we find pieces of ourselves.
-- Bangor Daily News
Makes for riveting reading…. a compelling story….an exceptional biography….
-- Santa Fe New Mexican
Uncovers a family history long obscured by secrets and lies…functions well as a window into a largely vanished social and cultural structure. Heartfelt and accomplished…
-- Kirkus
One of the more intriguing footnotes in American theatrical lore has always been the mysterious suicide in 1938 of ’ the loveliest woman in America’, Rosamond Pinchot, during the out of town tryout of – not O’Neill, not Strindberg – but Thornton Wilder’s ‘Our Town’. Who was she? What were the circumstances of her death? Her granddaughter, Bibi Gaston, came into possession of Pinchot’s diaries a few years ago and went on her own detective hunt. Surprise! She comes up with a beautifully written, three generational saga worthy of the Edith Wharton of ‘House of Mirth,’ ‘A Lost Lady’ and ‘My Mortal Enemy.’
-- John Guare, playwright 'Six Degrees of Separation'
This is perhaps the best book I’ve read in a decade. Beautifully written, the author’s search for family information reveals great sadness, missed opportunities, lost love, famous friends, and emotional double-crosses that break one’s heart. A big player in this book is the land … forests, waterfalls, and islands in Maine. The people in this book will stay with you for a long time. Bibi Gaston is a gifted storyteller and a brave heart.
-- Margo Howard, (daughter of Ann Landers)
The discovery of her grandmother’s diaries has taken Gaston on a journey not only of family and home but also of celebrity, politics, death, betrayal, and, eventually, understanding and hope. Highly recommended…
-- Library Journal
Engrossing….Gaston is especially apt at examining the ties that bind husbands and wives, men and women….it is not a perfect journey but not much in life is, and Gaston accepts that as she pulls together the disparate pieces of her family story and discovers much of herself in her grandmother’s words
-- Mary Houlihan, Chicago Sun-Times
The Loveliest Woman in America is Bibi Gaston’s deeply moving chronicle of her search for home. The end is unexpected and shattering.
-- Horton Foote, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
For years Rosamond Pinchot has been waiting in the wings of American women’s history. More than ‘the loveliest’, she was one of the most courageous of her generation, marking a path into adventurous life. Now her granddaughter, Bibi Gaston, has brought her center stage in this fascinating and moving biographical memoir.
-- Honor Moore, Author of The Bishop's Daughter