Book Review: Read the surprising tale of the actress who inherited a third of the Yankees

During the 1910s-1930s, Colonel Jacob Ruppert was a New York millionaire best known for owning the Yankees baseball team and the Ruppert brewery. Upon his death, Ruppert left a mysterious family friend most of his estate, causing wide spread speculation in the press. Bachelor Girlbegins in 1939, at the reading of Ruppert’s will, where we meet Helen Winthrope and Albert Kramer, both close confidantes and employees of the millionaire. Helen is unknowingly the heiress to Ruppert’s Eagle’s Rest estate, $300,000 in cash, and a third of the Yankees.

Rewind to 1919 and the beginning of the story as told by Kim Van Alkemade.

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In 1919, Helen Winthrope has been living life as an actress, but an illness leaves her jobless and physically weak. Helen has limited possibilities for work, especially as she does not want to marry. Ruppert is an old friend of Helen’s father and he takes her under his wing, eventually hiring her to work for him. The job gives Helen the ability to be a ‘bachelor girl’ earning her own living and making her own choices.

Albert Kramer is Jacob Ruppert’s loyal personal secretary who mentors Helen in her early days of their working together for Ruppert. They develop a deep friendship – and more - as Albert shares his deepest secrets with her.

The novel alternates chapters narrated by Helen and Albert, and spans the 20 years both were involved with Jacob Ruppert. While each of them is a real life individual, Alkemade has created this account of the circumstances surrounding the relationship between Helen, Albert and Jacob based on her own historical research. The tale she tells is intertwined with actual historical events of the day and is a gem of a story about family, friendship and identity.

I found it to be a very interesting read, the characters were likable, the story believable, and the historical events accurate. All in all an enjoyable read for those who like a fictional tale interwoven with actual events.

Helen Varga is a library technician at the Steveston Branch of the Richmond Public Library.

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