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The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

American Heiress

If you will recall in my blog entry about The Rules of Attraction, I said that I read three books rapidly in a row after The Silver Linings Playbook.  The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin is the last of these three books.  If you will also recall in that same post, I mentioned that the three books I read each caused me, the reader, to feel a very particular emotion.  For The American Heiress, I’m sad to report that my emotion after finishing the book could only be characterized as disappointment.  There are few things I dislike more than finishing a book and being just plain disappointed.

Set in the Gilded Age at the turn of the 20th century, Cora Cash is a wealthy American heiress who has everything that money can buy, save for a title.  Set out to prove money can buy everything, Cora’s mother takes her to England where soon enough, Cora is engaged to eligible English bachelor, Ivo the Duke of Wareham.  Once married, Cora soon learns that there is an entirely new set of rules that comes with her title of Duchess.  On top of this, her catch of a husband is secretive and withdrawn and Cora soon learns that she never really knew Ivo before marrying him.

I thought the book sounded promising.  I’m usually a sucker for a good period novel.  The problem is, I prefer the novels I read to have more of a plot other than “why is my husband being so weird? Do I really know him at all? What should I do?”  While that may be a bit of a harsh interpretation, by the time I got to the end of the novel I really didn’t think anything had been accomplished.  I don’t think any of the characters at the end were truly happy.  If they were, I wasn’t convinced.  It was as though in the ending, Goodwin tried to create a more serious “life’s tough, wear a helmet” conclusion that really didn’t fit with the fluff that made up a majority of the book.  To be honest, even though I know what would be considered the “climax,” I couldn’t help but thinking “that was it?”

So I guess onto some more positive thoughts on The American Heiress? I didn’t hate the book.  I was disappointed in it and I thought it could have been better, but I didn’t hate it.  I do think that that there were a few redeeming factors of the novel, the first being Cora Cash is a very likable character.  It would have been very easy to write Cora in such a way that makes her severely unlikable.  She isn’t.  She’s wealthy beyond belief, but she’s naive in a way that’s (while frustrating at times) almost endearing.  Secondly, the time period itself is interesting to read about.  I have never watched the show Downton Abby but I imagine a lot of its characters would act similarly to those in The American Heiress.

So, is this book worth your time? If I’m being honest, not really.  Coming in at just under 500 pages, I would’ve been really angry if I spent a long period of time reading the book.  Fortunately I was able to finish the book rather quickly and therefore avoided the emotion of “anger” at its end.  Disappointment, on the other hand, was fully present.