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The Glitter and the Gold [Kindle Edition]

Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Consuelo Vanderbilt was young, beautiful and the heir to a vast family fortune. She was also deeply in love with an American suitor when her mother chose instead for her to fulfil her social ambitions and marry an English Duke. Leaving her life in America, she came to England as the Duchess of Marlborough in 1895 and took up residence in her new home - Blenheim Palace.

The 9th Duchess gives unique first-hand insight into life at the very pinnacle of English society in the Edwardian era. An unsnobbish, but often amused observer of the intricate hierarchy both upstairs and downstairs at Blenheim Palace, she is also a revealing witness to the glittering balls, huge weekend parties and major state occasions she attended or hosted. Here are her encounters with every important figure of the day - from Queen Victoria, Edward V11 and Queen Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas, Prince Metternich and the young Winston Churchill.

Causing a scandal by separating from the Duke after 11 years, Consuelo began her new life as philanthropist, public speaker and campaigner for women's suffrage. Her literary soirees would include H G Wells, JM Barrie and George Bernard Shaw. In 1921 she remarried aviator Jacques Balsan moving with him to a chateau in the South of France.

This intimate, richly enjoyable memoir is a wonderfully revealing portrait of a golden age.

Editorial Reviews


“Consuelo Vanderbilt was the original poor little rich girl.  A wonderful account of the glitz and glamour of the Gilded Age and how money really can't buy you love.” —Daisy Goodwin, author of The American Heiress

About the Author

CONSEULO VANDERBILT BALSAN  was born in 1877. She became the Duchess of Marlborough on her marriage in 1895. She died in 1964.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1044 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder (October 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005MZN0WS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,875 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Life! August 20, 1999
By A Customer
Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan had one of the most amazing, extraordinary lives of anyone in American history. Raised into mind-boggling wealth on Fifth Avenue, Consuelo had the misfortune of having Alva as her power-mad mother. Alva, in fact, locked away her strikingly tall, dark daughter and kept her prisoner until she agreed to marry the arrogant, weak and some say violent, Duke of Marlborough. She became the mistress, in l895, of Blenheim, a palace so big that she never even knew how many rooms it had. The author describes fascinating years of having royalty as her guests, visiting Czarist Russis before the Revolution, life as a dutchess, her divorce and subsequent marriage to Jacques Balsan. Unfortunately, Consuelo glosses over the sensational headlines in the 20s, caused by her divorce from the Duke. Even for a Vanderbilt woman, born into inconceivable wealth and power, Consuelo stood out with her extraordinary personality. Of all the "Dollar Princesses", those wealthy American women who wed royalty in the late l890s and early 20th Century, Consuelo is the only one who acted like she was born into royalty. This is a knockout memoir, despite its glossing over of sensitive segments of her life. By the way, the paperback edition curiously omits the great shots of Blenheim Palace found in the original hardback. A must-read. A genuine classic.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Names, dates, and locations September 8, 2003
This did read more like a legerbook of facts and names than a memoir- I think Mrs. Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan was being particularly deliberate about the way this was structured. It was almost like a series of notes to herself- 1945, specific house, x and y were there. x was charming. I wonder if this is just how memoirs have changed- enh, but then again, I have read some much older memoirs that were more personal. Balsan did put a lot of herself into this, and her opinions were present, contrary to what others asserted in their reviews. The reader definitely gets an impression of her, however, we're only let so far in. I guess this kind of reads like the social column of a newspaper... 300+ pages of it. I have read a lot of contempory memoirs and they very much describe daily events, how they were, what they felt. Somehow this is different. She stops right before giving anything real away, I suppose. She is like so many older women I have known (not quite her contemporaries) who will tell you that something was unpleasant for them, and then won't tell you why or what they did about it, or how it's linked to other events. I don't think it's fair to call her a name-dropper. Her friends did happen to be people who are well known, and one can't write a memoir without talking about one's friends! I don't get the impression that she thought mentioning all of these people by names validated her life, but rather that she expected that's what would interest other people. She was wrong, in my case! I was most drawn in by the early part of the book, when she detailed how much she suffered at the hands of her mother. But she was sparse and careful there too. I admit to being bored reading this, but I learned a lot from it!
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Although ghost-written this book is a fascinating look at the turn of the (last) century practice of marrying American heiresses to impoverished English noblemen. Although not exactly a "tell-all" it is definately a "tell some."

Consoelo Vanderbilt, being the richest heiress around, made the "best" catch, the 9th Duke of Marlborough owner of Blenheim Palance, England's largest private house, built by his ancestor John Churchill, the First Duke. Unfortunately Blenheim, although a fabulous pile, did not have the thousands of acres of land needed to generate revenue to support it and the Duke was in desperate need of the railroad stock that was Consoelo's dowry.

What he was less in need of was Consoelo herself, and, as this book makes clear, had no regard, much less affection for her at all. Consoelo describes living in Blenheim and having to deal with the oddities of the British and the Duke, who would play tricks like "stealing" valuable ornaments from Blenheim so that Consoelo would have to deal with the alledgedly larcenous servants. She also describes the boredom and hassle of entertaining King Edward VII at house parties which involved numerous clothes changes and meal after elaborate meal all in the company of the insular (and sometimes insulting) British aristocrats. Thanks to the "table of precedence" she would have to sit next to the same crashing bores for every meal.

Eventually...well I won't give everything up except to say with the popularity of "Downton Abbey" I think this book should get some attention since it was written by someone who was really among the British aristocracy.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book! July 2, 2004
By Megan
This book is so much fun. If you're interested in the history of the upper class in the US or England, it is well worth checking this book out. Parts of it are laugh-out-loud funny, such as the description of dinner with the Duke; others are edge-of-your-seat exciting, such has her escape from the oncoming Germans in WWI; and others are just poignant, such as some of the anecdotes from her childhood. Like other reviewers, I do wish she had given more detail. She is a classy lady, though, and only kisses and tells about those she thinks really deserve it (mainly her first husband). Less fun for the reader, but there's still enough juicy gossip to keep me interested.
It is inexpertly written, but I think this ads to the book's charm. Mrs. Balsan obviously wrote it herself instead of taking the modern route and finding a ghost-writer.
If you enjoy this book, check out "To Marry and English Lord," which expands on Consuelo's story by talking about many other young hieresses of the time who married abroad.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I bought this hoping to learn who Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan ...
I bought this hoping to learn who Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan. She must have been a caring woman judging by her extensive charity work but the book is basically a long social event... Read more
Published 11 days ago by B. Foley
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
dragged a little, but it was enlightening.
Published 14 days ago by Miss Knowitall.
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
For mi it was a GREAT book. I think this woman is admirable. I would be happy to have half the courage she had to endure such a difficut life. Read more
Published 23 days ago by GCC
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book.
Published 26 days ago by chatty
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating that Consuelo Vanderbilt Blsan actually wrote this book in...
Fascinating that Consuelo Vanderbilt Blsan actually wrote this book in her later years, since she was such a major player in the Vanderbilt saga. She writes very well. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Carolyn Berets
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Happy with this purchase and with this seller.
Published 2 months ago by Sandra J. Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Great buy.
Excellent value and prompt service.
Published 2 months ago by Wayne Geddis
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Book
A good book which explains quite a bit about the "Golden Age".
Published 3 months ago by Heidionebraid
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
book about American heiresses marrying into UK nobility
Published 3 months ago by Book Worm
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very nice. Quite to my expectations.
Published 4 months ago by Michael J Silvia
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