BookBrowse has a new look! Learn more about the update here.

Reviews of The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

The American Heiress

A Novel

by Daisy Goodwin
  • Critics' Opinion:
  • Readers' Opinion:
  •  Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
  • Mar 2012
  • Rate this book

  • Buy This Book

About This Book

Book Summary

Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, 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.

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 Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals.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.

Chapter 1
The Hummingbird Man
Newport, Rhode Island, August 1893



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. The ladies of Newport had left their cards early that afternoon, some to prepare for the last and most important ball of the season, others so they could at least appear to do so. The usual clatter and bustle of Bellevue Avenue had faded away as the Four Hundred rested in anticipation of the evening ahead, leaving behind only the steady beat of the waves breaking on the rocks below. The light was beginning to go, but the heat of the day still shimmered from the white limestone façades of the great houses that clustered along the cliffs like a collection of wedding cakes, each one vying with its neighbour to be the most gorgeous confection. But the hummingbird man, who wore a dusty tailcoat and a ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. What is your initial impression of Cora Cash? How does she develop as a person in the course of the novel?

  2. In America, Cora is clearly at the top of society, while Bertha is very near the bottom. In what ways do their circumstances change when they move to 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. Cora is always aware that "no one was unaffected by the money." How does the money affect Cora herself ? What are the pleasures and perils of great wealth?

  5. What is your opinion of Teddy and the Duke? What about Charlotte?

  6. What do you think about Cora's decision at the end of the book? Would you have made the same choice? (The author has ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

[The American Heiress is] good, plain old pleasure reading that provides an escape to a world that is opulent and glorious, which is a welcome digression in times of austerity and economic flux. The pages fly by, and in the two days it took me to read the entire volume, I let myself relax into a dramatic flight of fancy. It's worth reading for the fun of reading, for the sake of being whisked off somewhere dramatic and regal. While I'm not always in the mood to read a book that will simply mute the rest of the world, occasionally I am, and in those times a story like The American Heiress is perfect...continued

Full Review (528 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Elizabeth Whitmore Funk).

Media Reviews

Sunday Times (UK)
Sparkling and thoroughly engaging…a delight. Filled with vitality and peopled by a vigorous supporting cast of characters…the story of a poor little rich girl learning the hard way… makes for a highly enjoyable and intelligent read.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A shrewd, spirited historical romance with flavors of Edith Wharton, Daphne du Maurier, Jane Austen, Upstairs, Downstairs and a dash of People magazine that charts a bumpy marriage of New World money and Old World tradition.... Goodwin's debut, a knowing, judicious blend of Gilded Age extravagance, below-stairs perspective,...and sophisticated social tableaux, offers reader satisfaction....Superior entertainment.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Top-notch writing brings to life the world of wealth on both sides of the Atlantic. This debut’s strong character development and sense of place will please fans of historical romance, including book club members.

Publishers Weekly
This lush look at Edwardian excess and scandal on both sides of the Atlantic...is a propulsive story of love, manners, culture clash, and store-bought class from a time long past that proves altogether fresh.

Author Blurb Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, winner of the Whitbread Prize for Biography
The detailing is beautiful, the great phalanx of historical characters amusing, and the relief of reading a novel that puts enjoyment first so rare and gratifying that I am ready for a sequel.

Author Blurb llison Pearson, New York Times bestselling author of I Don’t Know How She Does It and I Think I Love You
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.

Author Blurb Penny Vincenzi, author of The Best of Times
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.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book



The Mansions of Newport, Rhode Island

During the Gilded Age (1865-1914), America experienced a boom in railroad tycoons and oil barons, and a great deal of wealth was concentrated in the real estate of Newport, Rhode Island. Wealthy families like the Vanderbilts and Astors flocked to Newport each summer, and as their appreciation for the New England coast grew, they built opulent mansions that were affectionately referred to as summer "cottages." These stately homes are immortalized in Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, from which Daisy Goodwin draws inspiration for The American Heiress.

Rhode Island map Many of the Newport mansions are constructed from imported Italian marble and are designed in the Beaux-Arts style (named after the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where it was ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The American Heiress, try these:

  • The Maze at Windermere jacket

    The Maze at Windermere

    by Gregory Blake Smith

    Published 2019

    About this book

    A richly layered novel of love, ambition, and duplicity, set against the storied seascape of Newport, Rhode Island.

  • Victoria jacket

    Victoria

    by Daisy Goodwin

    Published 2017

    About this book

    More by this author

    Drawing on Queen Victoria's diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin—creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter—brings the young nineteenth-century ...

We have 9 read-alikes for The American Heiress, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Daisy Goodwin
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start
discovering exceptional books!
Find Out More

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman and a Thief
    A Gentleman and a Thief
    by Dean Jobb
    In the Roaring Twenties—an era known for its flash and glamour as well as its gangsters and ...
  • Book Jacket: Early Sobrieties
    Early Sobrieties
    by Michael Deagler
    Dennis Monk is sober now, and he expects some applause. Or at least some recognition that he's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Coin
    The Coin
    by Yasmin Zaher
    A popular choice for book jackets in recent years, perhaps especially in the historical fiction ...
  • Book Jacket: The Night of Baba Yaga
    The Night of Baba Yaga
    by Akira Otani, Sam Bett
    When Yoriko Shindo gets into a brawl on a busy street in 1970s Tokyo, she has no idea what the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Lady Tan's Circle of Women
by Lisa See
Lisa See's latest historical novel, inspired by the true story of a woman physician from 15th-century China.
Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Very Long, Very Strange Life of Isaac Dahl
    by Bart Yates

    A saga spanning 12 significant days across nearly 100 years in the life of a single man.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Win This Book
Win Smothermoss

Smothermoss by Alisa Alering

A haunting, imaginative, and twisting tale of two sisters and the menacing, unexplained forces that threaten them and their rural mountain community.

Enter