When I read Stephen Biller’s review of this book, I knew I had to read it at my first opportunity. Well, that opportunity arose and here we are. Unlike some books that I have read lately (good books, but slow going), I could not put this one down.
If you haven’t read this book, go read it next. It’s not that long and worth your time. The story though straightforward is amazingly creative. A young man receives one million dollars on his twenty-fifth birthday. That would be nice today, but in 1900, this was an astronomical fortune. About two weeks later, Brewster learns that he will inherit around seven million dollars on his twenty-sixth birthday if he can meet the following conditions:
- He must be a pauper
- He cannot have any hope of getting his money back after said birthday (No IRA’s or bonds or friends holding the cash for him)
- He cannot spend frivolously (The understanding is that he will have to spend $1,000,000 so this is subjective)
- He can’t give it away
- He can’t tell anyone about this new inheritance nor why he is getting rid of the current one.
Brewster decides that this can’t be too difficult….
In 1900, the United States did not have a consumerist economy. Nay, the world did not have a consumerist economy anywhere. The best that I can figure, I could probably spend the equivalent in today’s currency (particularly given the current exchange rates), BUT we have societies built on spending money. One amusing point came when Brewster had appendicitis. He tried to overpay the doctor (bought the best care available, hired a private nurse etc…); the bill came to $3,000. 🙂
The hardest part was when people began deserting him as his money ran out. He was mocked and scorned. Those people would come to his parties, eat his food and laugh. They wanted simply to get what they could before he ran out of cash. Then they left him like the vultures they were.
Brewster’s amazing year showed him true love and true friendship. He decided that even if he lost the challenge, that much was worth one million dollars.
And no, the story wasn’t without some turns that would catch you off guard.
Definitely worth five stars even with a couple of swear words.
But, before you go, if you lasted this long, I have a question or two. How would you spend the money today? I would assume that it would be worth at least 30-40 million today. If you didn’t have the requirements about giving, who would you give to? I’ve thought about it once or twice. I think that I could do a lot of good for some of my family. Are they needy? No, but I would love to spend on them. That’s the great thing about family. They are people to spoil.