My mother was a famous beauty, with sea-green eyes, a button nose, and Cupid’s bow lips that parted like pearls. In some women, perfect features do not add up to an exquisite whole, but in my mother the sum effect was so stunning that when she married my father, a Proper Philadelphian, society seemed willing to overlook that her father was an entrepreneur who dabble in burlesque (revised for historical purposes as vaudeville) and married one of its stars, and that her grandfather was a rumored robber baron with connections to Tammany Hall. Her family had a fortune; his family had a name. The arrangement was not all that unusual.

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen


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