The American Heiress: A Novel

The American Heiress: A Novel

3.8 290
by Daisy Goodwin

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Enter a world in which American millionaires marry British aristocrats-in return for title and social status-and discover why this blockbuster bestselling novel continues to enchant millions of readers.

Be careful what you wish for...
Newport heiress Cora Cash-beautiful, spirited, and the richest girl in the country-is the closest

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Enter a world in which American millionaires marry British aristocrats-in return for title and social status-and discover why this blockbuster bestselling novel continues to enchant millions of readers.

Be careful what you wish for...
Newport heiress Cora Cash-beautiful, spirited, and the richest girl in the country-is the closest thing that American society has to a princess in 1893. But her mother wants more, and whisks Cora away to England for the one thing money can't get a woman in the States: a title.

When it comes to love
Cora makes a dazzling impression on English society-followed by a brilliant match-but finds the chill in the air of magnificent ancestral homes is not solely due to the lack of central heating. Faced with the traps and betrayals of an old-world aristocracy that can trip up even the most charming, accomplished outsider, can Cora grow from a spoiled rich girl into a woman of substance?

Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, Daisy Goodwin's The American Heiress marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James.

"Superior...shrewd, spirited historical romance."-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Vibrant. . .archly entertaining."-Janet Maslin, The New York Times

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Janet Maslin

Ms. Goodwin writes deliciously.
Amanda Foreman

A wonderful, guilty pleasure of a read.
Kate Mosse

Deliciously classy. A story that gallops along, full of exquisite period detail.

[An] exceptionally thoughtful and stunning historical novel that will leave you reeling and astonished...and give you the urge to re-read it the instant the last page is turned.
Penny Vincenzi

I was seduced by this book, rather as Cora was seduced by her duke: with great skill and confidence. Intriguing, atmospheric, and extremely stylish, I was still thinking about it long after I had reached the end.
RT Book Reviews (4 ½ stars)

Smart, emotional, entertaining writing proves Goodwin is adept at creating the perfect atmosphere and backdrop for the turn of the century and a world where money can buy a title, but not happiness or acceptance. Like Henry James and Edith Wharton, Goodwin delves into this seemingly gracious world of opulence to uncover its harsh side, and brings a cast of fascinating characters into a delicious tale that captivates.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
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4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.30(d)

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The American Heiress 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 289 reviews.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
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.
1AnneB More than 1 year ago
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.
Cecita More than 1 year ago
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.
kim-galleria More than 1 year ago
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.
blueyedirishgrl More than 1 year ago
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...
julieannwrites More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 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.
Sweet_Tea More than 1 year ago
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!
OHBeth More than 1 year ago
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.
Rhetorent More than 1 year ago
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.
llh0803 More than 1 year ago
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.
JGarrison More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was such a beautiful story and i would recomend it to anyone who enjoys curling up in a comfy chair and being transported to an enchanting era in history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will enjoy if you like historical novels, with a bit of mystery.
melemooch More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up because i saw the little blurp on the front 'if you are having Dowton Abbey withdrawals..."! It was so well written and I just loved the way the story flowed. I love this era and this book was everything I had hoped it would be and more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too romance novel for me!
DAfan More than 1 year ago
If you are a Downton Abbey fan you will enjoy this book. Very good writing and story.
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
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.
DEE37VM More than 1 year ago
Not my kind of read usually but it was about 1am and I was headed out for a trip next day and wanted a "Read" for downtime. After reading reviews/samples of almost 15 books, kept coming back to this one....exhausted, I just caved and went for it. What a find I had actually pulled out a winner. This author is an excellent writer, builds a solid character development and a very descriptive path to storyline. Got right into the pages, moved in lock, stock and barrel. What a wonderful escape book, excellent for clearing the mind and allowing yourself to be in the moment. Strength of character in a pampered child of wealth who displays wisdom and beneficial qualities of her American heritage.
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Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed this novel. They talk about the Gilded Age when American Families were making money after the civil war and had raised their daughters and sons with such wealth. But you had old blue blood families that didn't want to have the families married with the new money in the country so these young ladies were brought over to England and then the rest of Europe in the hope of marrying men of title. This story is about such a young lady who had to find her way around the old ways of England and bring with her the money that will save a family home and title. I very much enjoyed this novel.
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