(From Goodreads) 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 Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals.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.
I’ve been telling everyone this book is Downton Abbey from the other side. The main character’s name is even Cora. Though not exactly the same story I couldn’t help but think Downton’s Cora must have felt some of the same lost feeling this Cora felt.
I loved this story. While I wasn’t always a fan of Cora, I was sympathetic to what growing up with her mother and then being tossed into a situation where she didn’t know the rules. And by the end of the story I did really like Cora.
Cora’s mother is bound and determined to get her married to some title. Cora’s feelings never mattered. And while Cora has plans to runaway and be with the boy she “thinks” she loves a horrible accident keeps her with her mother and puts her directly in the path of Ivo, the Duke her mother has been looking for. The speed at which the two get engaged was sort of mind boggling to me and made me wonder it that’s how it really happened.
The book also made and interesting contrast and compare of the American Aristocracy of the time and the British Aristocracy. I have to say I don’t think I could live in a drafty castle with no in-door plumbing. It’s also an interesting study of the way the elite Americans of the time lived. Let’s just say they were a little bit frivolous.
This was a great antidote to my Downton withdrawal and helped me get ready for next season when the wonderful Shirley MacLaine joins the cast of Cora’s mother. Whether you’re a Downton fan or not I think if you like Historical Fiction you’ll enjoy this look into what it took to become a Titled American.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for my review copy of The American Heiress.