THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#3): And Then There Were None / Empty Mansions (Audiobook) / Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

And Then There Were NoneAnd Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Two things I can’t believe: (1) That it’s taken me sooo long to read this book (being that I’m a big mystery fan), and (2) that I’ve been able to avoid spoilers given how popular this book is (and has been for the past 75+ years)! It’s an amazing, complicated, intricate, puzzling mystery, and I enjoyed it very much.

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American FortuneEmpty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

EMPTY MANSIONS is my first audiobook of 2018. (The plan is to dedicate most of my audiobook listening to nonfiction this year. We’ll see how it goes!) Abandoned places are fascinating to me. While the mansions in this book weren’t abandoned entirely (there were caretakers on-site), the eccentric owner – Huguette Clark – hadn’t lived in them or seen them in decades. In fact, she spent her last 20 years living unnecessarily in hospital rooms, until her death in 2011 at age 104.

The first part of the book was all about Huguette’s father, W. A. Clark, who amassed a great fortune in copper mines and railroads during the late 1800s. Mr. Clark had quite an exciting life, going from a humble Pennsylvania farm boy to an extremely wealthy industrialist with a passion for art and the finest things money could buy. When he died in 1925, his fortune was split equally between Huguette and her four older half-siblings.

The rest of the book focused on Huguette and the ways she spent her inheritance. She was an unusual person, private to a fault, and very generous to people and causes close to her heart. She seemed happiest when she was hidden away from the world, among her art and her dollhouses.

As she got older, I think there were some who took advantage of her generosity. She gave away millions and millions, but was she manipulated by those few who were close to her? Conflicting wills written close together bring her mental state into question.

EMPTY MANSIONS is a well-researched blend of American History, biography, and family drama. The audiobook was performed by Kimberly Farr, and she did a fantastic job keeping me engaged in Huguette’s story. It also contained snippets of phone conversations between Huguette and her cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the co-authors of this book.

Overall, I enjoyed EMPTY MANSIONS, though given how insanely private Huguette Clark was during her life, I think she would cringe knowing this book is out there.

Weird Things Customers Say in BookshopsWeird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Customer: If I came to work here, would I get a discount at the liquor store next door?” (Ah, sure.)
• • •
Customer: Do you have any books by Jane Eyre?” (If only!)
• • •
I had a very brief career as a bookseller just after college, so reading this book was a fun reminder of some of the weird things customers say. 🙂 A funny, quick read. I borrowed this book from the library, though I should have bought it from a bookstore!

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” – Haruki Murakami

17 thoughts on “THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#3): And Then There Were None / Empty Mansions (Audiobook) / Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

  1. First of all, glad you read AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. It’s a favorite of mine. Secondly, I’ve been interested in EMPTY MANSIONS and will look for this one since you enjoyed it. Thirdly, love the quirky ‘things customers say’. I suspect many of them would be the same as ‘what patrons say or ask at the library’. I was always amazed or horrified or incredulous – sometimes all three. I need to read this. LOL

  2. EMPTY MANSIONS sounds fantastic.

    I actually have it on my shelf but have not read it. I need to get to it.

    I love the comment about Jane Eyre. LOL!!

    Great comments about the Agatha Christie book. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your audio and your week.

  3. You are a better person than I. Started Empty Mansions and after several pages on Hugette, I tossed it across the room. She was way too weird for me to feel any sympathy for her. Couldn’t finish it.

    • I can understand that, Judy. Huguette was frustrating at times. I mean, she really didn’t do much of anything. All that money and all that free time could have been put toward a greater good, a worthwhile cause instead… There was something off about her – a fear of people or maybe a fear of living.

  4. I’m so glad you read And Then There Were None and that you avoided spoilers! What’s crazy is that the play version has a completely different ending. I’ve read a biography on Hugette Clarke but Empty Mansions sounds better and I so want Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops. That sounds amazing!

    • I saw the old 1945 movie version of And Then There Were None, and I was surprised that it had a different ending than the book. I suppose they wanted it to have a Hollywood ending instead. I enjoyed both book and movie. 🙂

  5. Nice book choices. I am glad you enjoyed them. The bookstore book looks particularly fun.
    Your nine new books are nice variety. Happy Reading!

  6. These all look good, Agatha Christie wrote so well, I went through a time where I’d only read her books. I should pick one up again. The mansion one sounds fascinating too. I had never heard of her before. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these.

  7. And Then There Were None is a book I am hoping to read this year. Its always good to see a TBR book get a 5/5! Yay! I’ve avoided spoilers too but I know i need to read it sooner than later!

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