Carolyn Heilbrun, in Writing a Woman's Life, states that books about the real lives of women aren't written often enough. Women of Privilege is an attempt to fill that gap. The book describes three generations of women at Grasmere - a country estate in Rhinebeck, New York - who suffered because of the patriarchal attitudes of the men in their lives. On the surface, everything seemed enviable; below the surface were mental illness, alcoholism, the yearning for divorce, and questions about sexual identity.
The book traces the decline of a once privileged Hudson River Valley family where the neighbors were Vanderbilts, Delanos, and Roosevelts. Based on diaries and journals, and written by a family descendant, it combines biography and memoir with social history. Written by the great-great granddaughter of Sarah Minerva Schieffelin, the book is part biography, part memoir, and part social history. Based on journals and diaries that span more than a hundred years, Women of Privilege reveals how easy it is to create a family myth, when there is money to keep up appearances. Written with skill and grace, this is an insightful exploration of how the absence of human warmth can harm a child, and of how little inherited money matters in the end.
Susan Gillotti is a Jungian psychotherapist. She grew up in Washington, D.C. and lived in London for many years. She holds degrees from Vassar College and Lesley University, and has published articles in the Journal of Sandplay Therapy. She is co-author of How to Go to Work When Your Husband Is Against It, Your Children Aren't Old Enough, and There's Nothing You Can Do Anyhow. She lives in Norwich, Vermont with her husband, A. F. Gillotti, the novelist.