“In the Virginia hunt country just outside of Charlottesville, where I live, the older people still tell stories of a strange couple who died some two generations ago. The stories involve ghosts, the mysterious burning of a church, a murder at a millionaire’s house, a sensational lunacy trial, and a beautiful, scantily clad young woman prowling her gardens at night as if she were searching for something or someone — or trying to walk off the effects of the morphine that was deranging her. I was inclined to dismiss all of this as tall tales Virginians love to spin out; but when I looked into these yarns I found proof that they were true. . . .” from the preface
He was the author of two works, Four years behind the bars of “Bloomingdale;” or the bankruptcy of laws in New York and Chanler against Sherman, both published in 1906 the latter of which gave rise to his third credit at the Library of Congress, John Armstrong Chaloner, plaintiff-in-error, against Thomas T. Sherman, defendant-in-error. Brief of plaintiff-in-error, published in 1916 which is a copy of the record of an appeal against the efforts to have Chaloner declared insane under the New York statutes of the day. Amelie Rives was the more prolific author having produced a larger collection of fiction and poetry [including an atrocious imitation of Robert Burns] – some of them under the nom-de-plume of Princess Troubetzkoy after she divorced her Chanler, then married Prince Pierre Troubetzkoy – some of which are currently available as reprints. In point of fact they were both called authors not because they made a living with their pens nor because they produced deathless prose but merely because they didn’t do anything else – well nothing else that could be explicitly detailed as a profession.
This book is the equivalent of a literary exercise in voyeurism and while it is written in a charming style we just can not bring ourselves to approve of it. Better written than a tabloid, more tastefully done than a television show of the same genre you will still come away from the experience as edified as if you had spent an hour exchanging scurrilous gossip – enjoy!
Archie and Amelie: love and madness in the Gilded Age New York Harmony Books, c 2006 Donna M. Lucey Chaloner, John Armstrong, 1862-1935, Novelists, American 19th century Biography, Rives, Amelie, 1863-1945 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. vii, 339 p.,  p. of plates: ill., geneal. tables; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 312-320) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG
John Armstrong Chanler — known as Archie to his family — was an heir to the Astor fortune, an eccentric, dashing, and handsome millionaire. Amelie Rives, from a Southern family and the god-daughter of Robert E. Lee, was a daring author, a stunning temptress, and a woman ahead of her time. Filled with glamour, mystery, and madness, their love affair and marriage made them the talk of society in the Gilded Age.
Archie and Amelie seemed made for each other — both were passionate, intense, and driven by emotion — but the very things that brought them together would soon draw them apart. Their marriage began with a “secret” wedding that found its way onto the front page of the New York Times, to the dismay of Archie’s relatives and Amelie’s many gentleman friends. To the world, the couple appeared charmed, rich, and famous; they moved in social circles that included Oscar Wilde, Teddy Roosevelt, and Stanford White. But although their love was undeniable, they tormented each other, and their private life was troubled from the start.
They were the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald of their day — a celebrated couple too dramatic and unconventional to last — but their tumultuous story has largely been forgotten. Now, Donna M. Lucey vividly brings to life these extraordinary lovers and their sweeping, tragic romance.