I'm in a memoir phase these days, and I want to tell you about two I've read recently.
Wendy Lawless's Chanel Bonfire is full of dysfunctional beautiful people with money. In particular, it's about Lawless's mentally unbalanced and social climbing (and then falling) mother, who definitely showed her daughters the high-life while treating them like a cheap pair of earrings.
I also read Dinah Lenney's Bigger than Life, in which she tells the story of her wealthy father and both her difficult relationship with him and her even more difficult challenge of dealing with his murder by a former employee.
I liked Chanel Bonfire better. Frankly, it is a train wreck of dysfunction. It is hard to look away. But Lenney narrative aims for a more difficult task (balancing the two different pasts she is trying to make sense of), and I respect that she tries to do something very hard.
Both books make you wonder about why we love stories about beautiful, monied people behaving badly. The easy answer is that we want to convince ourselves we're better off without the burden of wealth. I actually think Edith Wharton got it right. It's not so much the money that undoes us. It's the way that money can make some people--especially beautiful women--commodify themselves. Or as the Eagles said, "City girls just seem to find out early, how to open doors with just a smile."