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The American Heiress: A Novel Paperback – March 27, 2012
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“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
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
An example: the duke in the story needs an American heiress because his father and brother died in close succession and he is ruined by death duties. But the novel begins in 1893, and death duties were first levied in 1894. The duke would have received his estate intact.
His castle was built by Edward III as a hunting lodge and given to an ancestor of the duke in 1315 in gratitude for services during the Hundred Years War. But Edward III was born in 1312 (probably didn't do much hunting before 1315), and ascended to the throne in 1327. Furthermore, the Hundred Years War began in 1337.
This isn't just pedanticism -- when an author scatters bloopers about historical facts I happen to know, I can't help wondering how much misinformation she is passing out about matters I know nothing of.
I don't consider myself a "quitter" when I choose not to finish a book; I just consider a different use of my time, because time is money. (And so are books, admittedly.) With that being said, I did finish this book, and was entertained by it. Does that make it a great book? No, but do all books have to be great literature? Let's hope not, because that would really lower the bar on what's considered great.
Entertainment aside, this is a very formulaic book with a very predictable plot. The heroine is a static character, and there's a pretty poor attempt at an African-American, southern-born lady's maid -- the concept of which could have been very interesting, considering, but ends up being a fail here. Additionally, there are very modern (as in, 21st century) character views in the book which don't ring true at all for the times. Marriage for love was an anomaly; marriage for money, property or position was the norm. Things like cheating husbands, mistresses, etc., were, if carried on tastefully, not just accepted by wives, but were often even expected. Would most 21st-century women be shocked and outraged by being expected to live that way? Probably. But if you're writing a book about another era, does it make sense to plop a 21st-century woman into the center of it?
Ms. Goodwin does do a fantastic job of recreating this world, in the sense of social behaviors, clothes, furniture and the like. Her atmosphere is really very good in that regard, and when details like these are used to further the sense of transportation into another time or place, I disagree with readers who dismiss these details as mere fluff. They're part of what makes this book entertaining.
For entertainment's sake, "The American Heiress" lives up to its many good reviews. It is entertaining, it's a fun read, and it's an easy read. If you're a fan of this era and/or these situations, and want something autobiographical, check out "The Glitter and the Gold" by Consuelo Vanderbilt, from whose life and circumstances this book heavily borrows. For straight-up nonfiction, check out "To Marry an English Lord" by Carol McD. Wallace and Gail MacColl. For "great" literature based on this era and circumstances, try anything by Edith Wharton. But don't blame Ms. Goodwin for not being Edith Wharton.
Because at the end of the day, who *is* Edith Wharton ... but Edith Wharton?
I will not recap the predictable story of the American billionaire heiress who has saved an English Duke's estate, her ambitious mother or the conniving landed English who set out to thwart her, that has been already been done by previous readers, and written far better by Wharton and Fellows.
What I will warn potential readers about is wasting their reading time on a work that is so poorly written and developed. The characters are shallow, stereotypical, and use interesting. The plot is predictable , down to the total reveal/ resolution during the last 20 pages of the book. Most disappointing is the lack of real research on the part of the author. Detailed descriptions of rooms, parties, clothing cannot compensate for the lack of historical basis. These details read like something the author imagined rather than something that is based in historical reference. Along the same vein, the dialogue vassilates between imagined speech of the Golden Age, both British and American, and current American dialect, perhaps to attract the contemporary reader.
If you enjoy reading this particular genre, reading or even rereading Wharton or Fellows is far more satisfying .
After reading this I do not have high hopes for Victoria, I will skip Goodwin's book and do not have high hopes for the TV adaptation, although it may improve onscreen.
Heed the naysayers, they are on target!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is well written with a good story as well.
ery good read. The story does not give itself away. Well written.Read more