The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin is one of my favorite reads this year. It is a whopping 468 pages which I LOVE! The writing in this book channels Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Penny Vicenzi- need I say more?
It is set in Newport Rhode, Island and in England. It is very loosely based upon the life of Consuela Vanderbilt who married the Duke of Marlborough. In the U.S., this book is titled The American Heiress. In England, it is titled My Last Duchess.
The very wealthy heiress is rightly named Cora Cash– love that! Her mother is a snobbish social climber who is convinced that Cora has to marry English royalty, despite a very suitable prospect in the U.S. Cora goes dutifully to England and literally falls and meets the Duke of Wareham, a dark character who didn’t seem to be looking for a wife.
Cora’s fortune and charms lead to a quick engagement. And, like in all good weddings, the families get involved! I also love that the Duke’s mother is called the Double Duchess. Why, you may ask? She was widowed by a Duke and promptly married another Duke! And, the Double Duchess has a serpent tatoo- popular today but not so much in 1893. Goodwin’s sense of humor shows throughout.
Like Cora, Wareham also has a past that becomes part of Cora’s present. While Cora is busy renovating her castle, Wareham is busy fighting his past. The Double Duchess is busy trying to usurp Cora and Cora’s mother is busy social climbing on both sides of an ocean.
This is a first novel for Goodwin and I hope that she writes many more. Her writing is full of wit and irony. I found myself laughing out loud numerous times and cringing at other times- that’s a great read!
When Teddy, Cora’s American beau comes to visit prior to the wedding he says, “I have no doubt that your mother is happy and your Duke and your dressmaker but I just wanted to be sure you were.”
This is an immediate must read! Enjoy!
St. Martin’s Press provided a review copy of this book for this post. All opinions are my own.
What are you reading and where are you going?