The Book of the Week is “Madness Under the Royal Palms” by Laurence Leamer, published in 2009. This book conveys the nature of the people who live on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
The posh area surrounded by the Intracoastal Waterway is where social climbers show off their fancy, expensive residences, cars, boats and significant others. Some are pretenders, frauds or criminals, but most of them, even with all of their trappings of wealth, are unhappy. No flaunting would be necessary if they were truly secure with themselves.
The author described two deaths attributable to the haughty environment, plus a few “May-December” marriages that ended in divorce that: a) included litigation over the prenuptial agreement as a way of protecting one’s assets from a gold-digging spouse (and ex-spouses; who might buy a $12,500 red-ostrich pocketbook at Hermes on Newbury Street), and b) the traumatic impact on the children involved.
On another topic, “It was not just manners that were breaking down but a profound social code that had governed Palm Beach for a hundred years.” One example of disruption of the status quo was the approval of Jews and gays as members at a country club. Donald Trump’s club, Mar-A-Lago broke the exclusivity barrier in Palm Beach. It wasn’t that he necessarily favored civil rights, however; it was merely a happy side effect of his desperation for money when he started the club in the mid-1980’s. One example of desecration of the social code- rudeness unprecedented for the 1990’s– could be seen in the bribing of valet parking attendants so boors could cut the line of people waiting to have their cars fetched after attending a social event.
Read the book to learn what transpires annually at the hundreds of Palm Beach charity events, balls, celebratory meals, fashion shows and parties, etc.; the gossip sources, and the current distinguishing feature of the truly wealthy.