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The American Heiress

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

35 out of 45 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

11 out of 12 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 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.

    25 out of 26 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 12 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 7 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 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2012

    Recommend, really enjoyable.

    You will enjoy if you like historical novels, with a bit of mystery.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2014

    This book held my interest from the first page to the last. Sur

    This book held my interest from the first page to the last. Sure it had elements from other novels already written but the story the author wove together was worth reading.

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  • Posted June 28, 2014

    For a debut novel, this was pretty good!  I could easily picture

    For a debut novel, this was pretty good!  I could easily picture this book being made into a movie, with all sorts of intrigue and interesting characters!  The heiress herself is very likable and you find yourself cheering for her to find true love throughout the book, despite the ambition of the people around her.  I will definitely look for Ms. Goodwin's next book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2014

    This was one of the best books I have readed in a long time. Ca

    This was one of the best books I have readed in a long time. Can't wait until her next book comes out in july.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2013

    The reader gets to follow the American heiress in her quest for

    The reader gets to follow the American heiress in her quest for independence and growing up. Cora (the heiress) has to navigate the differences in society from America and England, how money can ruin love, and how to survive in her marriage.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    Downton Abbey fans.

    Downton Abbey fans may enjoy this light read to pass the time before the next season. It's an easy read, nice for summer. Reminded me quite a bit of Edith Wharton's "Buccaneers", but the prose is not quite to her level.

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  • Posted July 23, 2013

    I really enjoyed this book but I do think that it wrapped up a l

    I really enjoyed this book but I do think that it wrapped up a little too quickly. I really enjoyed reading about the fashion of clothes and all of the traditions. The push and pull of the tension between Cora and Ivo was enjoyable. I didnt really understand the whole maid storyline and could have done without it- there could be less of that and it would have been fine.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2013

    Hi

    I really enjoyed this book. I would definitely recommend it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2013

    Good.

    Entertaining summer read

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  • Posted May 3, 2013

    Loved this book!

    I absolutely loved this book! I was nervous about getting it bc of all the mixed reviews and I'm so glad I did. I home Daisy Goodwin has a follow up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Worrh the read Worth the read

    I like historical fiction

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  • Posted January 10, 2013

    Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this book. It was an inte

    Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this book. It was an interesting story about rich American women marrying poor English aristocrats for titles and upward mobility. I enjoyed it.

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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.

    0 out of 1 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.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2012

    by Daisy Goodwin BLG9.16.2012 Cora Cash is the beautiful and v

    by Daisy Goodwin

    BLG9.16.2012

    Cora Cash is the beautiful and very rich heiress to the Cash Finest Flour fortune. Her mother Nancy Lovett-Cash is the social climbing mother who lost her beauty when her light enriched dress and veil, meant to impress, at her daughter's come out ball, bursts into flames disfiguring the left side of her face.


    Mrs. Cash arranges to go to England where Madeline Wyndham, the American connection in Europe to meeting and marrying titled aristocrats (for a nominal fee). Cora, and her mother, are discreetly introduced to Ivo Maltraverse, Ninth Duke of Wareham, tall, dark and looking for a rich heiress. They marry and on their honeymoon fall in love.


    Wareham's flamboyant mother, Fanny aka the Double Duchess, plays the evil mother-in-law. She is now remarried to the Duke of Buckingham, but still carries on with the Prince of Wales. Cora has to fight her at every corner for control of her own home. Adjusting to the old world ways would be fairly easy if only the rules were spelled out, but they are not. Cora is in a constant state of confusion and embarrassment and her husband, although forgiving, does not help. Wareham has the typical English gentleman affliction of not being able to open up and share himself, even with his wife. He leaves no question that he loves her but does not help her adjust, and in some cases he aides in creating obstacles, and he uses his temper to control her...but he does appreciate her money. Luckily her father allotted him a set amount upon their marriage but left her fortune in her control.


    Her closest friend, Lady Charlotte Beauchamp neice of Lady Fanny, is a wolf in sheep clothing. Her husband, Lord Ido, nephew of Ivo, is the drunkard and letcherous teller of tales who imposes his slimey self on Duchess Cora. Charlotte avails herself to the Duke Ivo at every opportunity while setting Cora up for humiliation at the hands of the infamous artist Loudain. Then again at a dinner given for the Prince of Wales, where the new Duchess learns there is more to her husband's relationship with Charlotte. It is then she realizes she is a pawn for her mother's social climbing and for her husband, who profits from her fortune and the son she gives him. No one seems to truly care about her except the Prince and her childhood friend, Teddy Van Der Leyden, who finally declares his love for her and reveals he saw Charlotte and Ivo together at the station when he was leaving to sail to America to marry her. They seemed to be in a romantic haze together. He talks her into running away with him to London. Ivo intercepts her enroute and finally opens up to her about his past, Charlotte and his dead brother, Guy. At last the barriers are down and the love flows in.


    This is a charming book that is slow at first but opens into a romantic mystery. It is well written, the characters and story line develops in an interesting manner.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2012

    Good summer read

    I enjoyed this book. I thought that it started strong & had interesting characters. I would have enjoyed more about some if the characters. I would recommend to a friend interested in this genre. It's a good summer read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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