The Astor Orphan

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The Astor Orphan
Authors Alexandra Aldrich
Language English
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date

The Astor Orphan is a 2013 memoir by Alexandra Aldrich, a member of the Astor family.


Alexandra Aldrich, a direct descendant to John Jacob Astor, recounts her childhood at Rokeby, a 43-room historic estate in Barrytown, New York. The family is land-rich but cash-poor. Her father is unemployed and her grandmother is an alcoholic. The book ends as she leaves for boarding school.

Critical reception[edit]

The book was described by Publishers Weekly as a "sparklingly mischievous debut".[1]

In the Chicago Tribune, Kevin Nance compared it to Grey Gardens, adding that, "Aldrich delivers buckets of eccentricity."[2] However, he argued that her "petulant grievance and thwarted entitlement" made the book "wearisome fast".[2] He added that the dialogues lacked credibility, and that there is a "lack of an adult, emotionally mature perspective".[2]

Writing for The New York Observer, Matthew Kassel argued that it "read[s] like a cross between Jane Eyre and Running with Scissors, adding that "it contain[ed] more than a few unsavory details about her family, personal things that one might not want the public to know about."[3] He went on to say that "the book feels like a child's revenge on her family."[3]

In Salon, Laura Miller called it "a mournful, curious tale of an anxious child's longing for security."[4] She added that it lacked "the fluency of truly accomplished storytelling".[4]

In The Boston Globe, Buzzy Jackson, the author of Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist, argued that it was "unpleasant for the reader to spend time with these spoiled, deranged people."[5]

In the Star Tribune, Eric Hanson called the book, "wearying, gorgeous, ugly, sad, bohemian and only mildly sordid or scandalous by TV or literary standards."[6]


  1. ^ The Astor Orphan: A Memoir , Publishers Weekly, 12/24/2012
  2. ^ a b c Kevin Nance, Review: 'The Astor Orphan' by Alexandra Aldrich, The Chicago Tribune, May 03, 2013
  3. ^ a b Matthew Kassel, Rokeby Baby: In New Memoir, Astor Descendant Details Impoverished Mansion Upbringing, The New York Observer, 04/16/13
  4. ^ a b Laura Miller, "'The Astor Orphan': Rich little poor girl", Salon, April 15, 2013
  5. ^ Buzzy Jackson, ‘The Astor Orphan’ by Alexandra Aldrich, The Boston Globe, April 30, 2013
  6. ^ Eric Hanson, "Review: 'The Astor Orphan'", by Alexandra Aldrich, Star Tribune, April 11, 2013