Review

Too Much Money

by Dominick Dunne

“Quite a scene, Gus thought. Here were the rich, whose who
were about to become richer and those who were hanging on by their
thumbs. These were the people he had spent a lifetime listening to
and writing about, who never seemed to tire of telling him their
secrets. He was always amazed by their willingness to talk at
cocktail parties, lunches, and dinners…” And
that’s what these society people do: attend lunches, cocktail
parties and dinners…and the occasional funeral or coming-out
party. But they do party.

Case en point: Ruby Renthal, fallen from grace due to a husband
languishing in prison for some financial philanderings. She wants
to prepare for his “homecoming” after his seven-year
stretch, so she goes looking at real estate. The exclusive
addresses she craves won’t accept Elias and Ruby Renthal
anymore --- and that’s where friend and confidant Maisie
Verdurin comes in. She tries to talk Ruby into the Tavistock
mansion, a place that has many fine features and a lot of years of
neglect in its past. Imagine “settling” for a
fixer-upper that your real estate agent says about it: You could
turn the ballroom into a projection room and show movies on Sunday
nights after people come in from the country. Between your plane
and your projection room, you’ll be back in no time (not to
mention the space for a record sized pool in the basement).

Hard to sympathize, right?

So the story centers loosely on Augustus (aka Gus) Bailey, a man
invited to all the soirées that matter in New York City. Gus
is a writer, and his subjects are the people he has rubbed elbows
with for years (actually, a few decades of rubbing elbows with the
rich and famous). They like Gus for his ability to get their names
in print. But now he has rubbed one lady the wrong way, and she has
herself bent on revenge. Plus, he made an unfortunate comment on an
obscure radio show and is now facing a slander suit. He hopes
beyond hope that his publisher doesn’t pull the plug, for
these people have influence and too much money to be ignored.

As he goes about his dining and partying, Gus feels that he is
being stalked --- by a tall man in a green Nissan Sentra.
Doesn’t sound real ominous, does it? But when he finds out
who is behind it, he’s convinced he’s in for it. He
can’t afford to take a fall at his age. The story he’s
chasing, though, may involve murder and he just can’t give it
up.

Meanwhile, Winkie Williams, a society walker who has always
escorted Lil Altemus --- old money now facing reduced circumstances
--- is nearing the end of his run. He makes arrangements with
Francis Xavior Branigan (couldn’t be his real name, could
it?) and Brucie, the high-end florist who caters to all the rich
folks’ greenery needs. Winkie wants his swan song to really
dazzle.

But Winkie’s last hurrah is nothing compared to the truly
decadent fetes. Seated at some of the best tables you will always
find Addison Kent --- at least until he makes an unforgivable faux
pas --- and people with names like Kay Kay Somerset, Binkie
Bosworth, Ezzie Fenwick, Muffy de la Roche, Figgy Watson, Ferdy,
Dodo and Perla, to name a few of the more colorful ones.

TOO MUCH MONEY gives us common people a glimpse into the
glittery world of high society, with their all glamour and their
foibles. Dominick Dunne makes that world as entertaining as the
extravagant parties his characters attend. Spend a few hours living
vicariously through Lil, Perla and Dodo. Wander through the rooms
of the Four Seasons and other exclusive places. This book is as
much fun as having money to throw around. Well, not
really…but it’s a good second.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 23, 2011

Too Much Money
by Dominick Dunne

  • Publication Date: September 28, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345464109
  • ISBN-13: 9780345464101