Lucey, Donna M. 1951-

views updated

Lucey, Donna M. 1951-


Born 1951; married Henry Wiencek (a writer).


Home—Charlottesville, VA.


Writer, photo editor.


Archie and Amélie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.


Photographing Montana, 1894-1928: The Life and Work of Evelyn Cameron, Knopf (New York, NY), 1990, Mountain Press Publishing (Missoula, MT), 2001.

(With Henry Wiencek) National Geographic Guide to America's Great Houses: More Than 150 Outstanding Mansions Open to the Public, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 1999.

I Dwell in Possibility: Women Build a Nation, 1600-1920, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2001.

Archie and Amélie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2006.


Donna M. Lucey is a writer and photo editor whose work focuses primarily on the history of America's gilded age, and on women who contributed to the development and growth of the nation. I Dwell in Possibility: Women Build a Nation, 1600-1920, a history that focuses entirely on women and their roles in America's history, was originally intended to concentrate on the nineteenth century alone, as Lucey was concerned that there would be too much information for a single book should she broaden her field. Her editor, however, pointed out that she was limiting herself in such a way that she would miss out on including a number of prominent figures in history that fell outside of that century. Once she began extending her research parameters, Lucey agreed that it would be worth the effort to expand the book. In an interview with Bella Stander, for her Web site, Lucey stated: "I wanted to do a book on unknown women, a celebration of how important they were before they got the vote, which is the moment when most histories weigh in." Carol Haggas, writing for Booklist, remarked: "Delightfully entertaining, sublimely captivating, this is how history should be communicated."

In Archie and Amélie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age, Lucey was able to indulge her interests in the glamour of that time period. The book follows John Armstrong "Archie" Chanler, a member of the wealthy Astor family, as he escapes from the Bloomingdale Asylum in 1900, and traces the progress of his scandalous romance with Amélie Rives, a sensational novelist of the time. In a Cinderella-like encounter, the couple met in Newport, Rhode Island, at a party, where Amélie lost a dancing shoe and Archie strived to recover it for her. The couple enjoyed a whirlwind romance that led swiftly to marriage, but the relationship itself was short-lived and Amélie was soon seeking a way out. Although the marriage itself lasted seven years on paper, the couple spent much of their time apart. In a review for the Boston Globe Online, Carol Iaciofano remarked: "The narrative often slows to the plodding pace of a term paper, one in which the distinction between major and minor details is often overwhelmed by stacks of facts. This is truly unfortunate, since Lucey has unearthed a great story and mined an impressive range of original letters, articles, and manuscripts." Francine Prose, in a review for the Washington Post Online, observed that the book "engages its readers in the initially charming and ultimately harrowing tale of the marriage between two self-willed and self-absorbed thoroughbreds, a public and scandalous romance that crashed and burned, as such romances are wont to do, in a decidedly spectacular fashion."



Americana, January-February, 1991, Nancy Naglin, review of Photographing Montana, 1894-1928: The Life and Work of Evelyn Cameron, p. 33.

American Heritage, December 1, 1990, "The Life and Works of Evelyn Cameron," p. 109.

Booklist, December 15, 2001, Carol Haggas, review of I Dwell in Possibility: Women Build a Nation, 1600-1920, p. 688; June 1, 2006, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Archie and Amélie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age, p. 28.

Library Journal, November 15, 2001, Patricia A. Beaber, review of I Dwell in Possibility, p. 80; July 1, 2006, Kathryn R. Bartelt, review of Archie and Amélie, p. 78.

New York Times, July 3, 2006, Janet Maslin, "A Combustible Couple's Descent amid Opulence," p. E1.

People, April 29, 1991, Leah Rozen, review of Photographing Montana, 1894-1928, p. 23.

Publishers Weekly, May 1, 2006, review of Archie and Amélie, p. 56.

Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2001, review of Photographing Montana 1894-1928, p. 238.

Washington Post Book World, July 30, 2006, Francine Prose, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Infamous," review of Archie and Amélie, p. 15.


Bella Stander Web site, (June 20, 2007), Bella Stander, review of I Dwell in Possibility.

Boston Globe Online, (July 18, 2006), Carol Iaciofano, review of Archie and Amélie.

Guardian Online, (May 18, 2002), Veronica Howell, "Go West, Young Lady," review of I Dwell in Possibility.

Virginia Festival of the Book Web site, (June 20, 2007), author biography.