Adapting the model that served her so well in Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation, Judith Mackrell takes three glamorous, eccentric, independent women as her subject, each of whom in turn presided over Venice’s 'il palazzo non finite' ... Well researched, gloriously gossipy, a delightful, colourful story of reinvention and rebellion.
No doubt many of those who read The Unfinished Palazzo will also know Guggenheim’s palazzo on Venice’s Grand Canal, which, since 1980, has been one of the world’s great modern art museums....investigates not just Guggenheim’s remarkable life but also the electrifying adventures of the two women who preceded her in that canal-front property. The result is a breathtaking social portrait, peeling the glitter from privileged lives even as it fleshes out the spectacle they created ...a page-turner but alert to emotional minutiae. She takes the same care throughout with these complicated women ... Overall, despite the burnouts and bad sex, this triptych presents an uplifting portrait ...far from its most eye-popping, but the way it gladdens the heart makes for a terrific finish.
The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice, by Judith Mackrell, tells the stories of these notoriously eccentric women... Their life stories are just as flashy, a kaleidoscope of bad marriages, bad divorces, Fortuny dresses, outlandish costume parties, fashionable portraits, excessive champagne, famous lovers, pickup lovers, alienated children and overlapping celebrity acquaintances. Yes, it’s salacious, but it’s also somewhat repetitive ... Strangely, there’s little sense of Venice in this book, outside of the house ... Perhaps Lady Castlerosse might have been something other than a society courtesan. But Mackrell’s documentation of their relentless self-absorption and unfiltered vanity argues against it.