The Columbia Writers Series Welcomes Bibi Gaston

image of featured speakerBibi Gaston is the author of The Loveliest Woman in America: A Tragic Actress, Her Lost Diaries, and Her Granddaughter's Search for Home (2008).

The book traces the life of Rosamond Pinchot, Gaston's grandmother, whose glamorous life and meteoric career as a stage and screen actress ended in suicide at the age of 33 in 1938. The story connects to many aspects of the American scene in the first half of the 20th century—high society, family dynamics, politics, the film and entertainment industry, and the place of women in American culture. It also links to issues of our own time as Gaston explores the legacy of Pinchot's tragedy in her own familial relationships.

The book was a finalist for the 2009 Oregon Book Awards and has now been reprinted in paperback by Harper Collins.

Bibi Gaston is a landscape architect who lives in The Dalles, Oregon. With 25 years of experience in the field, she has been reponsible for over 300 projects, from family gardens to scenic highways, and has been honored with numerous awards including a US Department of Transportation Honor Award in 2000. She is currently at work on a new book that will couple her interests in landscape and family history. Tentatively titled "The King of Jeeps: A Romantic Guide to the Lost Landscapes of Northern Morocco," the work follows the trail of a 1955 guidebook her parents wrote about Morocco, the country of her birth.

Praise for The Loveliest Woman in America:

image of Rosamond Pinchot, featured speaker's grandmother "…a fascinating memoir... Her writing is deft and sure. …. poetic, wry, humorous and, above all, spoken with the voice of truth and compassion. With 'The Loveliest Woman in America,' she gives readers the topography of the heart of a family, and in it we find pieces of ourselves." (Bangor Daily News)

"….Uncovers a family history long obscured by secrets and lies…functions well as a window into a largely vanished social and cultural structure. Heartfelt and accomplished…" (Kirkus Reviews)

"…a Dreiserian treatise on the corrosive uses of money and class in America and how self-destructive patterns of behavior are often handed down in families…Bibi Gaston does a remarkable job piecing together this dramatic family history…." (Washington Post)