Palm Beach is known around the world as the most wealthy, glamorous, opulent, decadent, self-indulgent, sinful spot on earth. With their beautiful 3.75 square-island constantly in the media glare, Palm Beachers protect their impossibly rich society from outside scrutiny with vigilant police, ubiquitous personal security staffs, and screens of tall hedges encircling every mansion.
To this bizarre suspicious, exclusive world, New York Times bestselling author Ronald Kessler brought his charm, insight, and award-winning investigative skills, and came to know Palm Beach, its celebrated and powerful residents, and its exotic social rituals as no outside writer ever has. In this colorful, entertaining, and compulsively readable book. Kessler reveals the inside story of Palm Beach society as it moves languidly through the summer months, quickens in the fall, and shifts into frenetic high speed as the season begins in December, peaks in January and February, and continues into April.
When unimaginable wealth combines with unlimited leisure time oil an island barely three times the size of New York's Central Park, human foibles and desires, lust and greed, passion and avarice, become magnified and intensified. Like laboratory rats fed growth hormones, the 9,800 Palm Beach residents—87 percent of whom are millionaires—exhibit the most outlandish extremes of their breed.
To tell the story, Kessler follows four Palm Beachers through the season. These four characters—the reigning queen of Palm Beach society, the night manager of Palm Beach's trendiest bar, a gay "walker" who escorts wealthy women to balls, and a thirty—six-year-old gorgeous blonde who says she "can't find a guy in Palm Beach"—know practically everyone on the island and tell what goes on behind the scenes.
Interweaving the yarns of these unfor-gettable figures with the lifestyle, history, scandals, lore, and rituals of a unique island of excess, The Season creates a powerful, seamless, juicy narrative that no novelist could dream up.
The tantalizing, and largely borne-out, premise of this dishy expos is that the real-life goings-on in the wealthy resort community of Palm Beach, Fla., are so hedonistically outr as to "make Dynasty and Dallas look like nursery tales." Having originally come to the area to research a book on Joseph Kennedy (The Sins of the Father), former Washington Post reporter Kessler found that life in Palm Beach--where 87% of the residents are millionaires, the local grocery store offers valet parking, bank tellers routinely make house calls, and party-goers shell out some $38 million a year to attend the almost-nightly charity balls held during the December-April "season"--was so "bizarre" that the town merited a book of its own. Although one local maintains, "we have the same problems everyone else does. You just add a few zeroes," Kessler's research, conducted during several lengthy stays in Palm Beach, resulted in the hardly surprising but nevertheless titillating conclusion that vast wealth and nearly unlimited leisure time are an often volatile combination. Adultery, plastic surgery and decadent night life all feature prominently here, as do names like Donald Trump, Roxanne Pulitzer and Rod Stewart. But through intimate portraits of some of Palm Beach's less famous residents, Kessler also puts a human face on all the glitz and glamour, revealing that the super-rich can be as painfully insecure, as lonely and even as down-to-earth as the rest of us. While all of that may be nothing new, this is a fun and frothy glimpse into a world that, despite its surface glitter, is, as Kessler astutely observes, characterized by almost as much cliquishness, pettiness and gossip as high school.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Worth the read
I read this book upon moving to West Palm and beginning work on Palm Beach island. Kessler's work is quintessential in cracking open the mindsets of the nation's elite class. I better understood where I was and the environment around me after reading this work, and I recommend it for anyone not familiar with South Florida and the Palm Beaches.