Review: The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki

If you have poured yourself a bowl of cereal in the last 100 or so years, odds are it was a Post brand cereal! I think most of us are familiar with some uber wealthy names like Vanderbilt, Hearst, Kennedy, and Rockefeller. The name Post doesn’t necessarily ring any bells for me. It sounds like a common name with little attached to it to distinguish itself.

When this book came across my desk for review, I basically thought the cover was pretty and that was about it. The name and title in the book didn’t draw me in or anything, it was purely the elegant cover. I read the blurb and was instantly intrigued. Of course I know the Post name and General Foods brands—-I don’t live under a rock or anything! But I literally never gave much thought to the brand beyond just that—-a food company.

But after reading the blurb I wanted to know all the things about this interesting woman who became the biggest name in food and cereal! She sounded like an interesting figure. There are tons of books on the Vanderbilts, their name just screams ‘romanticism’, the Post name not so much but I was so drawn to this story after the blurb and couldn’t WAIT to read it. I was excited to see a new name and story that promised something different!

Summary

Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard–even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweather Post lived an epic life few could imagine.

Marjorie’s journey began gluing cereal boxes in her father’s barn as a young girl. No one could have predicted that C. W. Post’s Cereal Company would grow into the General Foods empire and reshape the American way of life, with Marjorie as its heiress and leading lady. Not content to stay in her prescribed roles of high-society wife, mother, and hostess, Marjorie dared to demand more, making history in the process. Before turning thirty she amassed millions, becoming the wealthiest woman in the United States. But it was her life-force, advocacy, passion, and adventurous spirit that led to her stunning legacy.

And yet Marjorie’s story, though full of beauty and grandeur, set in the palatial homes she built such as Mar-a-Lago, was equally marked by challenge and tumult. A wife four times over, Marjorie sought her happily-ever-after with the blue-blooded party boy who could not outrun his demons, the charismatic financier whose charm turned to betrayal, the international diplomat with a dark side, and the bon vivant whose shocking secrets would shake Marjorie and all of society. Marjorie did everything on a grand scale, especially when it came to love.

Bestselling and acclaimed author Allison Pataki has crafted an intimate portrait of a larger-than-life woman, a powerful story of one woman falling in love with her own voice and embracing her own power while shaping history in the process. (summary from Goodreads)

Review

Since I didn’t know much—-ok anything—about Marjorie Post prior to reading this book, I felt like I was reading something fresh and new! I was instantly drawn in to the world and life of Marjorie! Clearly she had a massive impact on the American family as economy, I loved watching her personal story come alive on the pages of this book. I felt like the author did a great job balancing her personal life with her professional impact. I loved reading about every bit of it! Sometimes in books like this, I lean more toward the personal stories rather than the history but in this one I found both aspects equally compelling.

This book came in at around 400 pages which is pretty long for a historical fiction book but not so long as to be weighed down with too many details. It felt long enough to be a fully developed story that does justice to Marjorie Post and her empire and justice to Marjorie Post the woman. I really enjoyed this book much more than I was anticipating! I felt so invested in the story and found Marjorie to be such a compelling figure and I had no idea she built Mar-a-Lago! I loved reading about her life so much and I didn’t want it to end!

In truth this novel did focus quite a bit on her personal life and marriages, and I think that some readers would prefer a story more about her empire. For me the novel felt balanced and if I wanted to read a book about her actual life I would have picked up a non fiction book. This is a historical fiction novel and written more for entertainment value rather than for facts and liner content. I enjoyed the romance parts and the parts about her personal life so much, they were interesting and intriguing. There was so much to love in this one and I think fans of historical fiction will embrace this lovely gem. It has so much to enjoy and its length gives readers more to sink their teeth into! If you haven’t read this one yet get it on your radar! I should also note that as I was reading I went down a rabbit hole researching her life and history. I love when that happens!

Book Info and Rating

Format: 400 pages, hardcover

Published: February 15 2022 by Ballantine Books

ISBN 9780593355688

Free review copy provided by publisher, Ballantine Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: historical fiction

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