George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family's Legacy of Infidelitiesby Katharine Weber
The Memory of All That is Katharine Weber's memoir of her extraordinary family.
Her maternal grandmother, Kay Swift, was known both for her own music (she was the first woman to compose the score to a hit Broadway show, Fine and Dandy) and for her ten-year romance with George Gershwin. Their love affair began during Swift's marriage to James Paul Warburg, the multi-talented banker and economist who advised (and feuded with) FDR. Weber creates an intriguing and intimate group portrait of the renowned Warburg family, from her great-great-uncle, the eccentric art historian Aby Warburg, whose madness inspired modern theories of iconography, to her great-grandfather Paul M. Warburg, the architect of the Federal Reserve System whose unheeded warnings about the stock-market crash of 1929 made him "the Cassandra of Wall Street."
As she throws new light on her beloved grandmother's life and many amours, Weber also considers the role the psychoanalyst Gregory Zilboorg played in her family history, along with the ways the Warburg family has been as celebrated for its accomplishments as it has been vilified over the years by countless conspiracy theorists (from Henry Ford to Louis Farrakhan), who labeled Paul Warburg the ringleader of the so-called international Jewish banking conspiracy.
Her mother, Andrea Swift Warburg, married Sidney Kaufman, but their unlikely union, Weber believes, was a direct consequence of George Gershwin's looming presence in the Warburg family. A notorious womanizer, Weber's father was a peripatetic filmmaker who made propaganda and training films for the OSS during World War II before producing the first movie with smells, the regrettable flop that was AromaRama. He was as much an enigma to his daughter as he was to the FBI, which had him under surveillance for more than forty years, and even noted Katharine's birth in a memo to J. Edgar Hoover.
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"Novelist Weber mines her rich family history, hitting the mother lode of pedigreed romances and remembrances
. [they] literally walk off the pages of this captivating multi-generational saga." Booklist
"A wry portrait of a powerful, talented, but troubled family." Publishers Weekly
"Rich details of a dazzling but painful family past fraught with betrayals, infidelities and other assorted dysfunctions . illuminating." Kirkus Reviews
"I am in awe of the strength, tenacity and courage it took to rise up out of this fabled cast of characters and write one of the most powerful memoirs about inheritance I have ever read." - Dani Shapiro, author of Black and White
"An engaging family memoir that centers on the ardent extra-marital liaison between the author's maternal grandmother, composer Kay Swift, and her eminent colleague George Gershwin.... An entertaining, often poignant book." - Francine du Plessix Gray, author of Them
"A deeply moving book that is resonant and richly rewarding. Katharine Weber's loving and insightful look at her marquee worthy family fundamentally reminds us of our own in its strangeness and complexity. The deeply bonded relationship between her grandmother Kay Swift and lover George Gershwin is finally fully revealed with accuracy and aching poignancy. No one has ever properly told their story, and the combination of Weber's inside family knowledge, assiduous research, and brilliant writing make this an unforgettable and essential read." - Michael Feinstein
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Katharine Weber is the author of the novels True Confections, Triangle, The Little Women, The Music Lesson, and Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, the cultural historian Nicholas Fox Weber. For more information, visit her website at www.katharineweber.com.
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