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!
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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!