Customer Reviews for

The American Heiress

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

38 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

A truly fascinating story of the decadence that was the Gilded Age

The date is August, 1893, and Cora Cash is about to embark on her voyage of adulthood, beginning with her coming-out party at her parent's stunning home in Newport, RI. This is the type of soiree that the East Coast "money" families were always famous for throwing; and ...
The date is August, 1893, and Cora Cash is about to embark on her voyage of adulthood, beginning with her coming-out party at her parent's stunning home in Newport, RI. This is the type of soiree that the East Coast "money" families were always famous for throwing; and this particular ball has been advertised as being the most lavish party that the wealthy Rhode Island coast will see all summer. Cora has been named the richest girl of her generation and most definitely has everything handed to her on a silver platter. She has everything except what her mother wants Cora to have, and that is the one thing that money can't buy in the United States of America. So, after her party is over, Mom decides to take Cora to England in order to secure a husband for her; a husband with an elusive British title who lives in an ancestral home, and has a lineage of pure highfalutin English blood. Of course, what Mom doesn't realize is a "title" doesn't mean all that much, unless its King, and an ancestral home is nothing more than a pile of old stones that's falling down, and the man is simply looking for the money to fix it up. Cora soon meets her Duke, Ivo - the Duke of Wareham - and they fall in love and marry. Although romance is a tough subject among the British (Mr. Darcy proved that a while back), as they are perceived and written about as cold and more than a little "uptight," Cora Cash is an immaculate woman with a tough spine that begins to wear British society down. The newlyweds seem to love each other but have to face a great deal of problems including infidelity, no bathrooms in the castle (which would certainly be a big problem), and meddling mothers-in-law, as they go about their lives together. The nature of the plot is what makes The American Heiress different from a typical historical romance. Cora has a hard time realizing how important reputations are in Royal England, and how the standards are so much "higher" than in New York and Newport society. Ivo has his own demons - for instance, a few affairs that happened before he even met Cora come back to haunt him, and the fact that his castle is falling down and needs repairing is a subject that induces many arguments. Cora tries to please her man, but she has always been a truly independent girl and finds it hard to kowtow to the English rich when she knows that they aren't anywhere near as rich as she is - even though they DO own the covetous 'titles.' This author is a wonderful storyteller, and has certainly done her research into the lives of the rich and famous. For example: the summer cottage of the Cash family in Newport was fashioned to be a mirror-image of the Palace of Versailles in France.except bigger. Their 'Hall of Mirrors' was much larger than that of Louis and Marie Antoinette's, and the Cash family was blessed with far more servants. Add to that the British estates, which are so well-told that the reader actually feels as if they are experiencing the drafts for themselves; and, the slap happy people who attend all the glorious parties, and soon every page of this book becomes truly fantastical and completely unforgettable. This author has created an outstanding work that is enormously true to the era, that readers will really enjoy. The American Heiress is a definite keeper and, hopefully, just the first novel in a long line still to come. Quill Says: A truly fascinating story of the decadence and mystery that was the Gilded Age.

posted by FeatheredQuillBookReviews on June 12, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Lacks originality but not bad

Ok so ever since reading The House of Mirth, I haven't stopped reading about the Gilded Age. But this was a problem reading this book. At many points the novel felt like a re-hash of others. If anyone has read Alva and Consuelo Vanderbilt, you will know what I mean. It ...
Ok so ever since reading The House of Mirth, I haven't stopped reading about the Gilded Age. But this was a problem reading this book. At many points the novel felt like a re-hash of others. If anyone has read Alva and Consuelo Vanderbilt, you will know what I mean. It was just too similar. And did anyone else notice similarities to Rebecca (yes, I know a different century)? The painting? The secretive and aloof husband? However, the story held my interest and the description was quite vivid. Bottom line: if you haven't read much about this period, I think you will love it.

posted by Cecita on June 27, 2011

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  • Posted June 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A truly fascinating story of the decadence that was the Gilded Age

    The date is August, 1893, and Cora Cash is about to embark on her voyage of adulthood, beginning with her coming-out party at her parent's stunning home in Newport, RI. This is the type of soiree that the East Coast "money" families were always famous for throwing; and this particular ball has been advertised as being the most lavish party that the wealthy Rhode Island coast will see all summer. Cora has been named the richest girl of her generation and most definitely has everything handed to her on a silver platter. She has everything except what her mother wants Cora to have, and that is the one thing that money can't buy in the United States of America. So, after her party is over, Mom decides to take Cora to England in order to secure a husband for her; a husband with an elusive British title who lives in an ancestral home, and has a lineage of pure highfalutin English blood. Of course, what Mom doesn't realize is a "title" doesn't mean all that much, unless its King, and an ancestral home is nothing more than a pile of old stones that's falling down, and the man is simply looking for the money to fix it up. Cora soon meets her Duke, Ivo - the Duke of Wareham - and they fall in love and marry. Although romance is a tough subject among the British (Mr. Darcy proved that a while back), as they are perceived and written about as cold and more than a little "uptight," Cora Cash is an immaculate woman with a tough spine that begins to wear British society down. The newlyweds seem to love each other but have to face a great deal of problems including infidelity, no bathrooms in the castle (which would certainly be a big problem), and meddling mothers-in-law, as they go about their lives together. The nature of the plot is what makes The American Heiress different from a typical historical romance. Cora has a hard time realizing how important reputations are in Royal England, and how the standards are so much "higher" than in New York and Newport society. Ivo has his own demons - for instance, a few affairs that happened before he even met Cora come back to haunt him, and the fact that his castle is falling down and needs repairing is a subject that induces many arguments. Cora tries to please her man, but she has always been a truly independent girl and finds it hard to kowtow to the English rich when she knows that they aren't anywhere near as rich as she is - even though they DO own the covetous 'titles.' This author is a wonderful storyteller, and has certainly done her research into the lives of the rich and famous. For example: the summer cottage of the Cash family in Newport was fashioned to be a mirror-image of the Palace of Versailles in France.except bigger. Their 'Hall of Mirrors' was much larger than that of Louis and Marie Antoinette's, and the Cash family was blessed with far more servants. Add to that the British estates, which are so well-told that the reader actually feels as if they are experiencing the drafts for themselves; and, the slap happy people who attend all the glorious parties, and soon every page of this book becomes truly fantastical and completely unforgettable. This author has created an outstanding work that is enormously true to the era, that readers will really enjoy. The American Heiress is a definite keeper and, hopefully, just the first novel in a long line still to come. Quill Says: A truly fascinating story of the decadence and mystery that was the Gilded Age.

    38 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    If you like historical fiction - you will like this !

    Let me start of by saying - I loved this book! I have read several other books concerning this era, both fiction and non-fiction, and Ms. Goodwin has artfully incorporated the facts of this time and a wonderful story. The characters quickly become familiar and intriguing - we want to know more - about their lives, hopes and dreams. The settings, the USA, England and the English countryside are almost part of the story - the opulence of Newport, RI, New York City as well as London and the Dorset coast are brought to life almost as additional characters in the story. Cora Cash, the heroine, is rich, beautiful, intelligent yet at times naïve - which only endears her to the reader. She tries so hard at times, but at others, doesn't have a clue about human emotions. It is an interesting journey for her, as well as the reader, to come to a place of happiness, contentment and maturity. Altogether a wonderful and satisfying read - I recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction.

    26 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    American Heiress is the perfect mix of The Great Gatsby and The Help

    The pretend world of the nouveau riche- Americans who think money can (and does) buy anything. Daisy Goodwin has introduced us to a world gone forever of power, wealth and taste on two continents. Cora Cash just wants love but instead finds herself on the auction block for a title. Add a domineering mother and a titled cash poor (pardon the pun!)Brit and the games begin. You don't want to like these people but you find yourself wanting Cora to wake up and smell the conspiracy. The underlying current in the story is how the super wealthy back in the Gilded Age treat their help compared to how the British have always treated their staff. It rings of F. Scott Fitzgerald in the style of writing and I am looking forward to future books coming from Ms. Goodwin from across the pond.

    15 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2011

    Lacks originality but not bad

    Ok so ever since reading The House of Mirth, I haven't stopped reading about the Gilded Age. But this was a problem reading this book. At many points the novel felt like a re-hash of others. If anyone has read Alva and Consuelo Vanderbilt, you will know what I mean. It was just too similar. And did anyone else notice similarities to Rebecca (yes, I know a different century)? The painting? The secretive and aloof husband? However, the story held my interest and the description was quite vivid. Bottom line: if you haven't read much about this period, I think you will love it.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 19, 2012

    I am truly shocked at the good reviews for this book-it was awfu

    I am truly shocked at the good reviews for this book-it was awful. The "hero" of the book was so detached and cold that it was impossible to understand why Cora felt that she loved him. If I wanted to experience a self absorbed, emotionally detached male I would call my ex-husband rather than read a book!

    9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    AWFUL...truly awful.

    This book has lots of potential....Too bad it doesn't live up to it. I can honestly say I've never read a book with as much useless information thrown at you. Pages upon pages of detail that is utterly unimportant to the telling of this story & way, way too many internal monologues. The whole book you are climbing towards this one "big" revelation at the end, which isn't such a big revelation at all and completely falls flat. I skipped 4 or 5 pages at a time and still didn't miss a beat. Don't waste your time on this book...

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2011

    All the things Edith Wharton couldn,t say

    I devoured this book! It,s not a run of the mill bodice ripper, but a thoughtful portrayal of an era when rich Americans and needy Brits found each other and made marriages of convenience fun again. Looking for lots more great stuff from Daisy! Many thanks for this one.

    9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    I was enveloped by this book!

    This book took me to another time, the time I secretly wished we all still existed. I literally read this in two days. (I purchased the paperback version after being struck by the cover....it really conveys the feeling of the "story" which you won't fully understand until you read it.) Highly recomended for thosse like myself who want to be transported out of reallity for awhile.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Best part was the end

    Book was historically accurate in its use of terms and subjects, much of which I had to look up to understand. Although I read straight through over a period of several days, it was not that exciting until the final scene of the book. The author is however, a master at changing viewpoints from character to character seamlessly. Wait until it goes on sale to purchase.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2011

    not impressed...

    I was very disappointed with this book. The characters are not at all likeable. The plot is predictable and once you get to the last few chapters it's as if the author suddenly realized how long the book was getting and tried to tie everything together unsuccessfully.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Take a trip back in time

    The American Heiress begins in Newport where the family home "dwarfs" the Vanderbilt's summer mansion, The Breakers. The story is set during the Gilded age (1890). Cora Cash is an Heiress to the largest fortune in the United States and has her heart set on Marring Teddy Van Der Leyden, whose family wealth is much less than hers. Teddy cares for Cora, but wants to travel to Paris to paint. Leaving her to deal with her overbearing mother, Mrs. Cash who wants to "keep up with the Jones" by having Cora marry someone with a title. After a bizarre accident, Cora leaves with her mother to England.

    Cora comes across as a very strong young woman who is not about to marry someone just to please her mother. She is very much her own woman. It is in this spirit, Cora takes off riding into the English woods where she has a nasty fall and wakes up in the home of the very handsome and single Duke of Wareham. Shortly there after, to Mrs. Cash's excitement the Duke proposes to Cora. Mrs. Cash is thrilled to be getting exactly what she wanted, but Cora too is thrilled because she is marring for love.

    When Cora becomes the Duchess of Wareham she believes she'll need to learn a thing or two about royal etiquette, but she is up for the task. What Cora soon realizes is the new life she has married into is filled with secrets and deception. Once the dishonesty comes to light she is no longer sure her marriage had been for love and must decide her own future.

    Daisy Goodwin's writing is as beautiful as the cover of The American Heiress. She describes everything in stunning detail. While I was reading I felt like I was there in the 1890s. It was interesting to read how the super wealthy were in the lime light, as our celebrities are today. I really enjoyed reading The American Heiress.

    I would read it for awhile and would enjoy it, but not till the end did I feel like the story really grabbed me where I wanted to know what happens next. I enjoyed the numerous characters and how we got glimpses into some of their thoughts, but never enough to really know what was going on in secret. I would add there were a number of things that could easily have been kept out of the story which would have shortened the length of the story without losing content. I will tell you for me I really wasn't sure how the book was going to end. There really seemed like two possible outcomes and truthfully I wasn't really sure which one I was hoping for! I very much enjoyed The American Heiress and recommended it.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2012

    Not quite Downton

    I read The American Heiress to quench my thirst for Downton Abbey this summer and it started out promising. However, it eventually became overwhelmed with description and research. It could have used more showing and less telling, but it seemed quite well-researched. More character development and less hand-holding could have made this a great book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2013

    There is no option to have half stars, so I moved it down a bit

    There is no option to have half stars, so I moved it down a bit but overall it really is about a 3.5 star. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.

    The author, English, does a phenomenal job describing Victorian-era England with the bankrupted aristocracy and their near-desperation for money and to marry rich--mostly the "New Money" Americans. That was fantastically written. But when writing about Americans, clearly this author had no clue. It would be like an American writer trying to convince an English reader that they "know" their history. At least that is what it felt like as an American reader who is reading a work by an English writer--her writings about Americans during that time felt vacant, fake, and poorly researched. I unfortunately do not buy that an African decent person would have had it "better" in England during that period as well, and this writer made it seem like it was so much easier for those of that decent/race during this time period. Maybe so, but personal research of their history during this time period wasn't much better than it was on this side of the Pond.

    Overall, it was a decent read. Took me a while to get into it, but did enjoy the intrigue that unfolded. Not quite "Downton Abbey," but was not a waste of my reading power.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    Very good read, you will enjoy it.

    This book was recommended to me by a friend who knows I have enjoyed the show on PBS, Downton Abbey. The author used a bit of "old English" spelling and that took a little getting used to. If this was a series, I would read another one for sure.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2013

    Although it was a bit on the slow side in the beginning, the sto

    Although it was a bit on the slow side in the beginning, the story unwound itself and proved to be an interesting read.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

    I absolutely adored this book! Goodwin has created something qui

    I absolutely adored this book! Goodwin has created something quietly great. The plot is exceptionally thought out and the characters are lovely. I hate it when authors attempt to flaunt their  vocabulary or knowledge, but Goodwin manages to speak in an informed, elevated voice without coming off as too showy.   It was refreshing to read a novel through which I was unable to deceiver the ending.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2012

    Good read

    Very good easy read. Fans of Downton Abbey will love this.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2012

    Although I thought this was a great read in some sense, I only g

    Although I thought this was a great read in some sense, I only give it 3 stars for the following reasons. The ending seemed very trite after the buildup through the book regarding the Duke. I felt his final explanation was lame and really didn't match his actions throughout the book. Also, the subplot with the maid and the valet seemed to be thrown in with no point or much character development and just distracted from the central theme. I did enjoy the culture of the times

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2012

    Great Read!

    It is in my list of best books I've read. I recommend it highly.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2012

    Excellent Read!

    Excellent raad. If you like Downton Abbey you will enjoy this book.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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