The American Heiress

What is a girl to do while waiting for Season 3 of Downton Abbey? (Because it’s going to be a looong wait people… a long wait). Well I have something that might make the time pass a shade more quickly. Daisy Goodwin’s debut, The American Heiress, could not have come at a better moment. I’ve watched Seasons 1 and 2 of Downton Abbey enough that the hubs will have nothing more to do with it. The American Heiress is made for pining Downton fans, and it is deliciously rich in historical detail, drama, and romance. It oozes atmosphere.

Speaking of atmosphere, I think this review could use a little background music:


(I must mention that I recently entered the 21st century and got an iPhone. Do I need to tell you what my ringtone is? Let’s just say that Downton imbues even the most ordinary phone call with serious drama. It’s important to make your own fun in this life).

Goodwin’s book introduces us to Cora Cash, an incredibly wealthy American heiress whose mother will stop at nothing to get her daughter married to a Brit with a title. She imagines Cora as a duchess and she soon finds a way to make it happen. After a courtship so speedy it’s nearly indecent, Cora gets married to a handsome and highly eligible duke and becomes the Duchess of Wareham overnight. Naturally, hers is far from a simple marriage and everything quickly turns messy and secretive and page-turny. Cora discovers that her money can accomplish a great deal but it cannot secure happiness. She must depend on her ingenuity and American spunk to navigate the tricky waters of English society.

It’s a pleasure to read a book that is in the end, all about fun. It reads like Goodwin had a good time writing it and you feel like you are meant to just soak up the stylish details and the scandal and enjoy being entertained. It’s lush and evocative. You can really see the world that Goodwin describes. I’d say that it’s light on the downstairs drama, which sets it apart from Downton in one respect. However, there’s plenty of betrayal and many hidden agendas upstairs to keep you interested, so not to worry. With such a strong sense of place and a main character who is spirited and complex enough to be memorable, I’d say that The American Heiress will more than satisfy your longing for a little more Downton. Perfect reading when your hubby has gone out for the night and you are home alone with a cat and a box of bonbons. Seriously, I speak from experience.

The American Heiress is published by St. Martin’s Press.

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