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Surviving High Society: Lots of Love Trumps Lots of Money

1 rating: 3.0
2009 non-fiction book by Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland

To the outside world, Elizabeth Marvin Mullholland had it all. Adopted into a wealthy New England family, the young Elizabeth was afforded the luxury many people only realize in their dreams. She joined her family on lavish European vacations, lived … see full wiki

Author: Elizabeth Marvin Mulholland
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Publisher: Bascom Hill Publishing Group
Date Published: November 25, 2008
1 review about Surviving High Society: Lots of Love Trumps...

A life of privilege that left a lot to be desired.

  • Mar 10, 2009
  • by
On the surface you would think that being adopted into a wealthy Connecticut family was the biggest break of Patricia Elizabeth Marvin's life.  Born in Chicago in December, 1940, Elizabeth was the illegitimate daughter of Maxie Hawthorne and Charles Terrel.  Since Charles was already married and had no intention of ever marrying Maxie, the baby was put up for adoption just a month or so after she was born.    As luck would have it, or so it seemed, the infant was adopted by a wealthy couple from West Hartford, Ct.   Edward Waldo Marvin, the adoptive father , was head of the Trust Dept. at Connecticut Bank and Trust Co.  His wife Kay was heir to a family fortune and badly wanted to adopt two children.  Edward was reluctant but finally bowed to his wife incessant demands.  It was a decision he would come to regret.  "Surviving High Society:  Lots of Love Trumps Lots of Money" is the story of a dysfunctional family of four who although quite wealthy would never quite make it as a family.   As author Elizabeth Marvin Mullholland recalls in this book,  her domineering mother insisted on total control of her and her adopted brother's lives and it would take Elizabeth decades to escape her conniving mom's iron grip.  

During the first two decades of her life, Patricia Elizabeth Marvin would live a life most youngsters can only dream about.  She lived in a luxurious home, travelled far and wide with her family and mingled with the rich and famous.  As a young child, her closest friend was Katherine Hepburn's niece and in college her best friend was Eleanor Roosevelt's granddaughter.  Few would guess at the underlying issues that were gnawing at Patricia. No one knew that her adopted brother Ted had tried to kill her mother in a fit of rage or that he mother was so distant and aloof.   When her adoptive father Edward passed away in 1963,  22 year old Patricia was positively devastated.  She felt all alone in the world and found it extremely difficult to cope.

Over the next two decades Patricia would find herself in and out of psychiatric hospitals.  Each time she considered breaking away from her domineering mother Kay would tighten the screws on her daughter.   Kay Marvin had lots of money and very powerful connections and did not hesitate to utilize them.  In addtion, she constantly threatened to disinherit Patricia if she ever went against her wishes.  Towards the end of the book you will discover the dastardly plot that Kay hatched to make sure that her daughter remained under her thumb for the remainder of her born days.  The lengths that Kay was willing to go to achieve this end is positively shocking!

Much to my surprise "Surviving High Society: Lots of Love Trumps Lots of Money" does have a pretty happy ending.  When her mother finally disinherits her Patricia Elizabeth sets out to build a new life for herself.  She longs for nothing more than a normal existence and moves to Essex, Connecticut in 1985.   About a year later the woman who now called herself Elizabeth would meet the man of her dreams Jim Mulholland.  They would fall in love and were married on October 2, 1987 in a ceremony at Jim's Essex, Ct. home.  After the ceremony the party moved on to the Griswold Inn in Essex where the celebration continued until the wee small hours of the morning.  The couple is still happily married and now resides in Florida.   In a bizarre twist of fate, my wife and I were also married on October 2, 1987.  And believe it or not we also spent our wedding night at the Griswold Inn in Essex, Ct.!  We may have even crossed paths that night!   While I did enjoy reading "Surviving High Society"  I do believe that the subject matter probably makes this particular book more appropriate for female readers than for men.   Not a bad read.

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April 17, 2009
Hi.......Wow, this is quite a story, and one I think I'd enjoy. And to think that she may have crossed paths with you and your wife. What an in depth interview she would make! This poor woman went through hell and my heart goes out to her. I continue to be in awe of other people's stories, especially those who have overcome adversity like Elizabeth. I'm going to put this book on my list (the list keeps growning) and give it a try. I do agree with you, in that it seems like it's more of a woman's "read." In general, most men aren't intersted in these kinds of stories.
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