Editor’s note: If you’re as fascinated by the days of publishing past as I am, you’re going to want to listen to the incredible story of Neltje Doubleday Kings as told in Neltje’s memoir, North of Crazy. This audiobook not only features a prologue and an epilogue read by the author, but listeners are also in for a treat hearing the rest of Neltje’s story as told by Patricia Kalember. Kalember has appeared in a wide range of movies and television series, including her role as Georgie in “Sisters.”
Imagine a world of Gatsby-esque glamor, opulence, and cultural prestige, of exclusive parties and elegant dinners, of literary luminaries including Somerset Maugham, Daphne du Maurier, Irving Stone, and Theodore Roethke, of Manhattan townhouses and country estates. This is a world where children are raised by nannies, tutors, chauffeurs, gardeners, butlers, maids, and assorted staff, sent off to private schools—and largely ignored by their parents.
Publishing magnate Nelson Doubleday’s daughter, Neltje, was raised to assume her place as a society matron. But beneath a seemingly idyllic childhood, darker currents ran: a colorful but alcoholic father whose absences left holes, a mother incapable of love, a family divided by money and power struggles, and a secret that drove the young woman into emotional isolation.
North of Crazy is her story—written with the same fierce passion, wit, and emotion that drove her off the conventional path to reconstruct her life from base zero. She became an artist, a cattle rancher, and an entrepreneur.
Listen to an excerpt from Neltje’s North of Crazy audiobook, read by Patricia Kalember: