The American Heiress (Paperback)

By Daisy Goodwin

St. Martin's Griffin, 9780312658663, 496pp.

Publication Date: March 27, 2012

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Description

"Anyone suffering Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms (who isn't?) will find an instant tonic in Daisy Goodwin's The American Heiress. The story of Cora Cash, an American heiress in the 1890s who bags an English duke, this is a deliciously evocative first novel that lingers in the mind." --Allison Pearson, New York Times bestselling author of I Don't Know How She Does It and I Think I Love You

Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts', suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage.

Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, Cora's story marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James.

"For daughters of the new American billionaires of the 19th century, it was the ultimate deal: marriage to a cash-strapped British Aristocrat in return for a title and social status. But money didn't always buy them happiness." --Daisy Goodwin in The Daily Mail

The American Heiress was originally sold and distributed in the UK as My Last Duchess



About the Author

DAISY GOODWIN, a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University's film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University, is a leading television producer in the U.K. Her poetry anthologies, including 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life, have introduced many new readers to the pleasures of poetry, and she was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. She and her husband, an ABC TV executive, have two daughters and live in London. The American Heiress is her first novel.


Praise For The American Heiress

"Ms. Goodwin...writes deliciously." --Janet Maslin, The New York Times "A propulsive story of love, manners, culture clash, and store-bought class from a time long past that proves altogether fresh." --Publishers Weekly "Top-notch writing....will please fans of historical romance, including book club members.” –Library Journal (starred review)
"[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." --BookReporter.com
"Smart, emotional, entertaining writing....a delicious tale that captivates." --RT Book Reviews
“Deliciously classy. A story that gallops along, full of exquisite period detail." --Kate Mosse, New York Times bestselling author of Labyrinth "Sparkling and thoroughly engaging...a highly enjoyable and intelligent read." --The Sunday Times (U.K.) "I was seduced by this book, rather as Cora was seduced by her duke: with great skill and confidence. Intriguing, atmospheric, and extremely stylish." --Penny Vincenzi, author of The Best of Times

“A wonderful, guilty pleasure of a read.  The detailing is beautiful...and the relief of reading a novel that puts enjoyment first so rare and gratifying that I am ready for a sequel.” —Amanda Foreman, New York Times bestselling author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire



Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. What is your initial impression of Cora Cash?How does she develop as a person in the courseof the novel?
  2. In America, Cora is clearly at the top of society,while Bertha is very near the bottom. In what waysdo their circumstances change when they moveto England?
  3. What role do the mothers in the story—Mrs. Cash,Mrs. Van Der Leyden, and the Double Duchess— play in the central characters’ lives?
  4. What role do the mothers in the story—Mrs. Cash,Mrs. Van Der Leyden, and the Double Duchess— play in the central characters’ lives?
  5. What is your opinion of Teddy and the Duke?What about Charlotte?
  6. What do you think about Cora’s decision at theend of the book? Would you have made the samechoice?(The author has said she was of two mindsup until the last chapter.)
  7. What are the differences between the Old Worldand the New in the novel? Do both worlds seemremote in the twenty-first century, or do you seeparallels to contemporary society
  8. Why do modern readers enjoy reading novelsabout the past? Take a moment to discuss yourexperiences as a reader of historical fiction, ingeneral, and of The American Heiress in particular.
  9. When she was chair of the Orange Prize forFiction in 2010, Daisy Goodwin wrote acontroversial essay lamenting the “unrelentinggrimness” of so many of the novels and pointingout that “generally great fiction contains lightand shade”—not only misery but joy and humor.What do you think about Daisy’s argument that“it is time for publishers to stop treating literary fiction as the novelistic equivalent of cod-liver oil:if it’s nasty it must be good for you”?
  10. Kirkus Reviews called The American Heiress a“shrewd, spirited historical romance with flavorsof Edith Wharton, Daphne du Maurier, andJane Austen.” Other critics have also seen echoesof Henry James. If you have read any of theseearlier novelists, what parallels and differences do you see in Daisy’s work?
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