He then takes exception to what he perceives as Irwin's attempt to change the attitudes of the prisoners, his admiration for Irwin fading fast. He enjoyed napping and reading. It relies too much on a conflict between colorful characters, and a thrilling finish. Before they know it, even Mom and Dad have hauled their sorry butts to New York. And if you're going to take the family to a museum, great! They're leading a happy big city lifestyle, but it doesn't last long. If you don't know who these people are, this book is not for you.
Biltmore House is said to be the largest home in America 175,000 square feet of living space on 125,ooo acres in the North Carolina wilderness. That however, is probably more about what interests me as a reader than it is about the book itself. Irwin organizes a plot to throw the prison into chaos. The fortunes and misfortunes of the famous Vanderbilts. His decision to remove himself and his mother to the wilds of North Carolina to build this enormous edifice in the middle of no where is difficult to understand especially considering the daunting logistical challenges that the project entails.
Constructed in the fading days of the Gilded Age, Biltmore House is a colossally huge, 175,000-square-foot chateau located not in New York, Newport, Bar Harbor or Los Angeles, but rather tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Though the family is dysfunctional, the memoir communicates itself without condemning either of the Walls parents. So what was the purpose of the visit? In Chapter Twenty-Nine the family now lives in the Warthegau. But it was also home to remarkable individuals whose lives were forever changed by their time in Appalachia, and whose tenure there left an impact on a community that is still felt today. Part 2, Section 1 jumps forward five years to May of 1950 and centers around two new relationships: Ania and Kellerman and Benita and Muller.
Loads of fascinating facts in this volume. I was actually pretty disappointed by the end of this one. The amount of detail presented is prodigious. Here he again fails to recognize them, mistaking them for each other, to deadly result. The inhabitants of some castles without defenses are immediately killed, while the inhabitants of the defended castles consider the revolt only a nuisance. To take action themselves rather than only planning and commanding is seen as a loss of dignity. In Chapter Twenty-Two, Muller breaks off the engagement, telling Benita it is not right, given that her first husband had died in the resistance.
As I read about the process of building Biltmore House, I found it very hard to imagine undertaking such a project with little or no budget planning. The men agree they must work together to resist Hitler, and Marianne promises that the women and children will stand at their side. Muller is a German prisoner of war, and though Marianne tries to refuse his help, she gives in. The family is reassigned to a new lager in the Warthgau, Poland and while boarding the train to leave she sees cattle cars packed with Jews. Despite her newfound love for Theodore, Matilda pays more attention to her mother than to him, privileging her love for her mother over romantic love. The ghost scolds him for subordinating his mission to save his daughter below his own carnal desires and orders him to forget Matilda. I am so glad it lived up to my expectations.
Irwin orders the prisoners to stand down and elects to personally hoist the flag. The Last Castle is a saga of brute achievement, inspiring generosity and unlikely endurance. Winter comes down hard on Irwin, but Irwin achieves a moral victory, earning even more respect from the other prisoners. There is a suggestion here that treating women like objects has made Manfred blind in a way that dooms him. As Jeannette enters adolescence she contemplates more and more her parents' choices and rails against them for being irresponsible parents. She also has Matilda brought to the nearest room in the castle.
Marianne puts her young children Elisabeth and Katarina to bed, asks her workaholic husband Albrecht to join the party and greets her guests. It was Edith that saved Biltmore during hard times. She keeps the kids in the basement, forbids them to laugh, and molests Jeannette's brother, Brian. She has a Jewish best friend named Otto Smeltz who, one day while avoiding punishment from her father for running away, she falsely accuses of kidnapping her. The village or later town that grew up beside it and where Edith created a cottage industry to keep the dream alive. It is an intimate look at George, Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt: a man with a dream, the woman who saved it, and the child who completed their fairytale tableau. Perhaps the family refused to allow Kiernan to include more pictures to increase visits.
For a time everyone is settled and living independently until Rex and Rose Mary show up in Manhattan in a van. It was a fast easy read. Part 3, Section 2 starts with Chapter Thirty and Benita returning home to Fruhlinghausen. Disappointing, mostly because it never explains why George Vanderbilt would build it in the first place. She really did not have much information on the finances of the estate, just conjecture.
In Chapter Eleven, Benita wakes up in the cellar and realizes she needs to warn Muller about the Russian soldiers. He married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser. She joins a local convent so she can go work in Africa, but after 2 weeks her friend Rainer takes her to a local Hitler Youth performance. Redford and Gandolfini are two reasons the movie plays so well. Mom even takes a break from her art projects to hold down a job as a teacher to extend their stay. Each chapter is told from the third person but with the perspective of a different character including Marianne, Benita, Ania, Martin, and in one case Clotilde.