Customer Reviews for

The American Heiress

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

31 out of 41 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

10 out of 11 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 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.

    10 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.

    6 out of 6 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 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    A popular choice for book clubs

    Any television watcher who is addicted to Downton Abby will enjoy this book which deals with the same period of the development of the machine age in Britain and America. Newly wealthy American families scrambled to find eligible European young men for their daughters and impoverished European families with titled sons were more than happy to marry these young women in order to save the family manors. And it may be fiction but it all really happened! Well written, this book is a pleasant read which may encourage many to read the biographies of the young Vanderbilt heiresses among others who actually traveled to Europe to gain a title to add to the family history.

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  • Posted July 23, 2013

    Hard Read

    This book was difficult for me to keep reading, the plot twisted and turned. I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

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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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Enjoyable!

    Familiar tale...but well told and a fun escape for a little while
    (Its also a QUICK read)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    Recommend

    Currently reading. Easy read and enjoyable

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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.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2012

    A Bit Like A Romance Novel

    It was readable and i admit it kept my interest enough to pick up every day. I like historical fiction so I was learning a part of history. However, At times I felt like I was reading a Romance novel.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2012

    So-so

    The costumes and furnishings belonging to the over-privledged were described in beautiful detail. I was disappointed that the author didn't indicate what historical news was taking place outsde the mansions. The book was not more than a romace novel with family infighting and gamesmanship. It kind of like a

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  • Posted June 13, 2012

    Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. I lov

    Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. I love the way it was written for the exception of the end - it felt like she ended the book abruptly after "a big revelation" that wasn't much of a revelation at all.

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  • Posted May 29, 2012

    Quick Read

    Well written. Transports you back in time. Plot keeps you interested. However, quite disappointed in the ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2012

    Not great but okay.

    Too romance novel for me!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2012

    Enjoyable story. Easy read.

    The story was interesting if somewhat predictable. I particularly enjoyed the parts about Newport Society. This book was like candy - enjoyable but not particularly challenging which is certainly great every once in a while.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2012

    A decent read

    Not very memorable but i enjoyed it.

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  • Posted December 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Entertaining, Elusive Read

    The American Heiress was an interesting debut novel by Daisy Goodwin. It is the story of Cora Cash, the fictional heiress to an American flour fortune. At eighteen, Cora is taken by her domineering mother to England in search of a a titled husband. Cora quickly meets Ivo-the handsome, brooding Duke of Wareham-after her entree into British society. Before she knows it she's taken part in a whirlwind wedding and is married to a man she hardly knows.

    This novel was entertaining, with its details of Gilded Age extravagence and beautiful ball gowns. Cora is a spolied, mostly likable heroine, although I never felt like I really knew her as a character. The other character whose story was most focused on was Bertha, Cora's maid, and she was a fine as an everywoman-character, but again, I didn't feel she had any real development.

    There was something very elusive about The American Heiress. I could never really tell what it was trying to be. In some ways it romanticized Ivo, the mysterious duke, and the whole glittering world of the aristocracy. In other ways it took a Wharton-esque approach toward the issues being dealt with and seemed to have a grim outlook on 19th British society.

    The plot made me read on. It was nothing special but interesting enough. Most of the characters were unlikable except for Cora, Bertha, and Ivo and even they seemed to have few redeeming qualities. I was disappointed by the conclusion, which seemed unsure of what kind of an ending it wanted to be. Don't get me wrong- The American Heiress was entertaining and it was worth reading. It just seemed to be ordinary writing masquerading as literature.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2011

    Not a great read

    This was slightly better than a romance novel. Not worth the price. A bit too predictable and not terribly deep.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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