Few journalists have access to the haut monde like James Reginato. He’s been covering that beat for decades, from his years at W magazine to his current gig as writer-at-large at Vanity Fair. In his latest book Great Houses, Modern Aristocrats (Rizzoli), Reginato pulls back the curtain once more, giving the reader an insider glimpse at the lush and lavish homes of England’s leading families. Although “homes” may be too cozy of a word; we’re talking about the palatial residences of, say, the 11th Duke of Marlborough (Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire) or the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire (The Old Vicarage in Derbyshire). Breathtaking visual appeal aside — calling all interior-design lovers — Reginato’s book delves into the history and, more importantly, the people behind these estates, making for a richly fascinating read.

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