Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

Title: The American Heiress
Author: Daisy Goodwin

Genre: Fiction (Historical / late 19th century / American / British / Peerage / Marriage)
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin's Press (6/21/2011)
Source: The publisher

Rating: Liked a great deal -- ice cream sundae delicious!
Did I finish?: Yes -- gobbled it up like the aforementioned sundae.
One-sentence summary: A rich American girl sets off for Europe and lands a prize catch in the form of of a Duke -- but is it happily ever after?
Reading Challenges: British Books, Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: Love it -- although I'm not sure the dress exactly resembles one from the late 1890s.  Still, it's a striking cover that evokes the luxury and elegance of the era.

I'm reminded of...: Jeanne Kalogridis, Amanda Prantera, Suzanne M. Wolfe 

First line: The visiting hour was almost over, so the hummingbird man encountered only the occasional carriage as he pushed his cart along the narrow strip of road between the mansions of Newport and the Atlantic Ocean.

Did... I love richer-than-words Cora Cash?: YES.  Typically this isn't the kind of heroine I'd fall for, but from the first page I found Cora a really marvelous mix of boldness and insecurity that felt real and compelling.  I cared, from the first page to the last, about her.

Did... I enjoy this novel despite being unfamiliar with the Browning poem, 'My Last Duchess'?: YES, although after the fact I found the poem and it's fantastic -- short and delightful!

Does... this book have hints of Gothic, a la Henry James and Daphne du Maurier?: YES, and those are two of my favorite authors.  Yum!

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: The paperback has just been released -- get it!  It's exactly what I love in a summer read and as I describe it in my review, it's frothy like a sweet cocktail.

Why did I get this book?: The era is a favorite of mine and I just fell in love with the cover.

Review: This might win for best vacation fluff of the summer, and I mean that in the awesomest way.  I've seen Anna Godbersen's YA Luxe series described as Edith Wharton meets Gossip Girl, and I would say that this novel is a grown-up version of the Luxe books.  Or, how about this: ever had a gin fizz?  This is the book equivalent of that light, frothy, fruity, delicious cocktail.

I had to post a Teaser earlier today because I was literally delighted by this story from the first handful of pages, and it honestly gets better from there.  Set during the Gilded Age, the story follows American heiress Cora Cash as she hunts, and marries, an English noble.  Even though Goodwin's writing is effortless it isn't thin: it's clear she's done her research and her tone balances the utterly serious way high society viewed itself with darkly comedic moments and pointed commentary offered in a very pointed manner.  It has Gothic elements, fantastic descriptions of houses and dresses and meals, plenty of intrigue, and a heroine who is self-absorbed and guileless in equal part.  Cora actually sold me on the story, from the first: she's outrageous and out-of-touch, but young and unsure in her own way.  She made me care for her eventual happiness, even if I'm not normally the type to cheer for rich heiresses!

Bottom line: get this book, pour yourself a silly cocktail, and settle in for some very ostentatious fun!

*** *** ***

GIVEAWAY!  The publisher has generously offered a giveaway of The American Heiress to one lucky reader!  To enter, leave a comment with your email address.  Open to US/CA readers, closes 8/5.  I have an interview with the author, Daisy Goodwin -- comment there for another chance to enter!


  1. Ooh! I would love the chance to read this one, and see what I make of the main character. It does sound like a really interesting read, and I thank you for sharing your thoughts on it with us. I'd love to be entered in your giveaway, and thanks for hosting it!


  2. I've seen this one and I REALLY want to read it. Please count me in. I love the way that you describe it!

    teresasreadingcorner at gmail dot com

  3. Great review! Sounds like a good book. Thanks for the contest!

  4. Would love to win a copy of this book!

    slkenn79 (at) gmail (dot) com

  5. Would love a chance to win this. Looks like a fun read.

    amandask66 AT gmail DOT com


  6. This sounds like one both my mother and I would like. Please enter me in your great contest! kathy(at)bermudaonion.net

  7. Thanks for the giveaway, and for the heads up on Shelfari!

    Laura Hartness
    CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

  8. Now I want it too :D There is just something over it, and it is an age I seldom (if ever) get to read about

  9. Does...this book have hints of Gothic, a la Henry James and Daphne du Maurier?: YES

    What?! Can't believe that none of the other reviews I have read pointed out that all-changing piece of deliciousness. Guess which book I am pulling out from my TBR stack tonight :-) (No need to enter me in the giveaway.) Thank you, Audra!

  10. Oh, I would love to win this one. I keep hearing fun things about it!


  11. Oh yay, yay, yay! I'm reading this one next week! Looking forward to it now! (So no need to enter me :)

  12. looks super good


  13. Henry James and Daphne du Marier? I'm sold!

    arcookson at yahoo dotcom

  14. I would love to win! dthicks (at) yahoo (dot) com.


  15. OK, you've convinced me. AND now I want an ice cream sundae, too. or that cocktail but it is still mid day.
    bkclubcare AT gmail

  16. I would love to win this book...you had me at an adult version of the Luxe books and the gin fiz comparison!


  17. Thanks for the opportunity, would love to win.

    littleone AT shaw DOt ca

  18. This one sounds so good! I've been hoping to win one ever since I saw it on goodreads a while back. Thanks!


  19. This sounds like a very interesting read! Thanks for the chance to win a copy :)

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  20. Count me in please :)


  21. Glad to see you loved this one. I had the audio, but thought the story very descriptive, but the characters were not well developed IMO.

  22. I listened to this on audiobook and LOVED it! I love this time period and loved Cora! And the cover is to die for!

  23. count me in!

  24. Ok, this review has me intrigued. I had no intention of being interested in this book until this in your review "Browning poem, 'My Last Duchess'" That has my attention!

    please enter me. savvyverseandwit at gmail


  25. I don't think I've ever read anything about this era. I've seen this at the store and I think that now I need to buy it :)

  26. This sounds like a delightful read (confessing to being tempted by the frothy cocktail description ;D.) Also I love a hint of duMaurier in my reading. And Newport. Lovely.

  27. Great review. Please enter me into the giveaway...


  28. Oh, I would love to read this book! Please enter me!

    Shana S.

  29. This book has definitely made it on my wish list. Thanks for the giveaway!


  30. Great review, the book sounds amazing I would love to read this one, please enter me.

  31. Great review! This sounds like a book I would definitely love to read. I'm a big fan of the time period and love Edith Wharton and Anna Godbersen's the Luxe. I can't wait for your interview tih Daisy Goodwin.


    Thank-you for the chance to win!

  32. would love to read this novel...thanks for the chance :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  33. I would love the chance to win a copy of this! I'm looking forward to reading it.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  34. I'd love to win this book.

    clenna at aol dot com

  35. I'd love to read this book, it's on my tbr list, thanks for the giveaway!!

    Lissette_125 AT hotmail DOT com

  36. This book looks great! Thanks for the giveaway!!


  37. This book sounds so good! I cannot wait to read it! Thanks for the giveaway.

  38. I love there period and the subject. I think reading this book would give me a little window into my grandmother's life. She was a child in the 1890s but I think she experienced some of the richness of that era. I would love to win this book.


  39. I would loveeee to read this book!! plus the cover is so beautiful!!


  40. I saw this book at BN last week - I put it on my wish list! Thanks for the chance to win it!

    Seasidebooknook at yahoo dot com

  41. Well, based on your rave review of this one, I'd love to give it a shot. Please count me in. Thank you!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  42. Sounds like an interesting read! Thanks for the giveaway.

    carpenyx (at) gmail.com

  43. Given you are comparing it to a sundae sign me up please.

    chocolate and croissants at yahoo . com

  44. Please sign me up. Thanks!!!!