Continued from page 1

The last years of her life were sad and lonely. The balls and grand receptions were gone, and alcohol became a necessity to make it through each day. Eventually scotch and vodka took their toll. Her family intervened and accompanied her to a rehab facility.

There, one afternoon, while discussing Duff Cooper she, cavalierly announced to her 47-year old son, “Oh, yes, he’s your father.” Stunned, Bill rushed from the room in tears.

After her death he found revenge, writing his own book ,”My Three Fathers,” in which he savaged his mother.

In a lovely introduction, Pulitzer Prize-winner Frances Fitzgerald describes some of the highs and lows of Susan Mary’s (her godmother’s) extraordinary life.

Ms. de Margerie continues the narrative with objectivity, sensitivity and care, providing the story of a determined, pedigreed woman who met Edith Wharton as a young girl, dined with Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt in the White House and went on to be perceived as a doyenne of the last half the 20th century.

She once explained to a reporter her recipe for a successful party and perhaps for life, calling it “a question of electricity. It’s also luck. If you’re fortunate enough to get the secretary of state and the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the night of an international crisis It sounds ghoulish, but it’s something you want to have.”

• Sandra McElwaine is a Washington correspondent for Newsweek Daily Beast.