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Friday, February 08, 2013

cover of 'Brewster's Millions'

The humorous, entertaining, and occasionally insightful story of Montgomery Brewster, who has to spend a million dollars in a year. Monty Brewster, the son of parents who made a "romantic runaway match" and then died when he was a child, was just one of the rich young bucks in New York, until he inherits a million dollars from his grandfather. Shortly after that, he discovers that he has another inheritance from an uncle on his mother's side-- but, due to the poor relationship between the two sides of the family, there is a condition attached. Monty's uncle James Sedgwick didn't want any of his fortune mixed with that of Monty's grandfather, Edwin Peter Brewster. In order to inherit Sedgwick's five million, Brewster will have to spend his inheritance within a year. But, he can't tell anyone (besides his lawyers) what he is doing, and his uncle's friend Swearengen Jones will monitor to make sure Brewster doesn't gamble too much, give too much to charity, or otherwise break the conditions of Sedgwick's bequest.

There are some pretty entertaining momements as Brewster works to lose his money without letting anyone know what he's doing. When he gets mugged, he is quite polite with the thieves as they cut off the pearl buttons from his dinner shirt (he simply asks that they don't cut the shirt since he has somewhere to be), and makes sure they take the $300 in his coat pocket. At other times he bets on a horse race or invests in a fund where he is certain to lose-- and when he unexpectedly gains money instead of losing it, he is distraught and yet people think he has an inside tip or is some kind of financial wizard. He becomes a careful accountant, has a notebook with his "gains" (read: how much he's spent) and has a budget of how much money he must spend each week to keep on track. Later on in the year, he rents a yacht and its crew for several months and takes a group of friends on a long trip to the mediterranean, looking for more ways to spend money (which, by this point, he's getting quite good at). He gets better and better at getting his way, since the price tag for things is no problem; when he hears of an idyllic Italian villa from one of his friends, he decides to rent it even though the owner never rents it out, and eventually figures out what she really wants, which will allow him to get his way: not just more money, but a fancy automobile.

As Brewster spends more and more money, he also learns who his true friends are. At first, society and the newspapers laugh at him or make jokes at his expense, describing his extravagant parties and the way he is blowing through his inheritance. Some of his close friends (who he immediately hired to work for him after he found out about this million dollar gamble) are very concerned, and one friend even leaves to go out West because he's so distraught over investing Brewster's money and losing a great deal of it. As the year goes on, some people stop associating with Brewster entirely; and as the long, expensive yacht trip goes on and Brewster keeps looking for more ways to spend money, his friends get so concerned about him that they figure out a way to keep him in his cabin and commandeer the ship to go back home. In addition to discovering his friends, he learns about love-- he becomes estranged from the beautiful society girl that he thinks he loves (he doesn't have time to make love to her and compete with her other suitors because if he does he won't keep pace with his "budget"), and by the end he finally figures out that he loves and is beloved by his childhood friend, Peggy, who stands by him and supports him and is even willing to marry him when she thinks he is penniless.

A fairly light and quick read, but one I enjoyed quite a bit; there were moments when I laughed out loud. I read the free, public domain ebook copy of Brewster's Millions from Project Gutenberg.

Title:Brewster's Millions
Author:George Barr McCutcheon (originally published under the pen name Richard Greaves)
Date published:1902
Number of pages:142
Notes:read an ebook


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