Saturday, June 4, 2011

The American Heiress - Book Review

We spent the evening with my in-laws today. While Utah Dad grilled some bratwurst, I flipped through the People magazine. My mother-in-law subscribes to the magazine and I have to admit that it's my guilty pleasure to read the gossip and hype about the celebrities when I visit her. Although, I'm so out-of-touch with all things "cool" lately, that I don't even recognize half of the supposedly famous people.

Tonight, I stopped to read an article about the extraordinarily large homes of some of the rich and famous. Oprah's home in California is over 20,000 square feet but only has four bedrooms. Wow!

Reading Daisy Goodwin's novel The American Heiress was a bit like reading a tabloid magazine. Cora Cash is one of the wealthiest American young women in the 1890's--the gilded age. Cora is already worth a fortune but her status-seeking mother schemes to marry her off to a titled but money-troubled English gentleman. Cora is OK with that plan if it means that she can escape her mother's control. The press and the admiring young fans crowd the streets for a glimpse of Cora at her elaborate wedding to Duke Wareham. Cora thrives on the attention but her wedding day is even more perfect because she has married for love.

However, is this highly educated and groomed young woman really ready for the stuffy and proper English gentility? And did her duke marry for love or money?

Goodwin's novel is a very entertaining read. I had a hard time putting it down to go to sleep each night this week. Reminding me of Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence with it's decadence and moral themes, this novel is full of fresh plot twists and elegant but ultimately self-serving characters. Cora, while narcissistic and conceited, is so young and naive that I couldn't help but hope the best for her as she stumbles her way through the English protocol and the intrigue that awaits in her new life.

By turns romantic and tragic, The American Heiress lured me in with details of the extravagant lifestyles of the extremely wealthy but captured and held my attention with a well-paced plot and fabulously delicious and devious characters. It's a "guilty pleasure" but not too guilty, because Goodwin is pretty good at keeping the details of the "bedroom" scenes brief and discreet.

This is one enthralling summer read.

I received a copy of The American Heiress through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was received. The book will be released on June 21st.

1 comment:

twinisms said...

You had me when you compared the book to People. I's my guilty pleasure too:) I used to catch up at my mother-in-law's! How funny!

Thanks, I'll add this book to my list!