Sister: The Life of the Legendary American Interior Decorator Mrs. Henry Parish II

Apple Parish Bartlett, Author, Susan Bartlett Crater, Joint Author, Albert Hadley, Foreword by St. Martin's Press $35 (357p) ISBN 978-0-312-24240-4
The daughter and granddaughter of Mrs. Henry Parish II (who, as a baby, was dubbed ""Sister"" by her three-year-old brother) present a lively tribute to the woman who was the undisputed doyenne of 20th-century American interior decorating, the visionary behind the renowned Parish-Hadley firm and the tastemaker responsible for the ""American Country"" look. Strung together with Sister's own memoirs and comments by the authors, the book is structured as an ongoing conversation among Sister's relatives, lifelong friends (including Eleanor Todd, K.K. Auchincloss and Marian Frelinghuysen), colleagues and clients. Raised ""in the grand manner,"" Dorothy May Kinnicutt Parish received no formal training as a decorator but remembers loving the look of her family's sitting room when she was six years old. Blessed with a remarkable eye for color and an intuitive aesthetic sense, Sister used vibrant colors (red walls and a different shade of red paint for the floor, for example) and easily mixed heirlooms, custom-made furniture and inexpensive items with flair. Patrician, elegant and stubborn--indeed, she expected no one to challenge her design decisions, least of all her clients (including Brooke Astor, President and Mrs. Kennedy, the William Paleys)--Sister believed the most important thing in life was continuity. For her, this meant that love and warmth is evidenced by hospitality and good breeding. Balancing intimacy, objectivity and the numerous voices from Sister's world, Bartlett and Crater have rendered a fast-moving, entertaining biography that's like eavesdropping on a lively society lunch. Agent, Faith Childs. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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