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 fulfill 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 ninth 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 VII, and Queen Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas, Prince Metternich, and the young Winston Churchill.
This intimate, richly enjoyable memoir is a wonderfully revealing portrait of a golden age.
©1953 Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan (P)2012 Tantor
"A woman of poise, beauty, and charm looks back on her life at the very center of the most opulent and aristocratic society of three countries, the United States, Britain, and France... and emerges... a woman of courage, public spirit, refinement, and surprisingly democratic convictions." (The New York Times)
Very enjoyable, especially if you are familiar with the public figures of the Edwardian period. Wonderful descriptions of the upper class life style of the time.
Not unless I was very eager to listen to the book, which in this case, I was. She was obviously trying to affect a "posh" American accent and rightly so. However, her constant mispronunciations in her reading made me gnash my teeth!
“He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter."
I looked forward to the history of this story, but the narrator did a terrible job! It was read too fast, and with little or no emotion so there was no way to discern the feeling of the Dutchess.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
I should have heeded the other reviews but I was thinking "No one can mess up a story which is basically a true-life Cinderella story gone awry." WRONG!!!!
Yeah, we can Google or Wikipedia all we need to know about one the more famous Vanderbilts but it's really better to get it from the actual "horse's mouth". This account is rather lightweight and obviously fluffed up. And this is before Chapter One starts! There is something not quite credible in presenting this book as being written by Consuelo Vanderbilt. Or ANY Vanderbilt except journalist Anderson Cooper or his mother fashion designer/entrepreneur, Gloria Vanderbilt, What really sinks this book is the horrible narration. Coleen Marlo sounds as if she's underwater with bubbles rapidly escaping her mouth. Her pronunciation is deplorable!
Consuelo (or whomever really wrote this book) doesn't have enough sense to see that there is nothing cute in bragging about owning slaves. She then tries to make us feel bad because her family lost their fortune after the Civil War, resulting in having to move to Paris. Really? Connie, let me enlighten you on how MY ancestors fared after that war. The closest we got to anything European was share-cropping in Paris, TENNESSEE or getting lynched in Rome, GEORGIA while YOUR folks romped at the Tuileries! Gimme a break, Girlfriend!
Keep your money or credit!
I decided to use my time being laid up to get smarter! In 18 months I've listened to over 200 books, mostly history, literature & biography.
Consuelo was a gem. Coleen, not so much. Insights on the Victorian/Edwardian eras as well as the 2 world wars from a wealthy philanthropic woman's perspective.
I was hoping for some insight into her life and times. But it's just a litany of name dropping. I guess she could't afford to offend any of the illustrious people she knew during her long life. But I would have loved a little juicy vintage gossip about some of them.
a little stilted
I expected a more detailed and insightful account by CV of her life as a member of the British nobility. I was disappointed. She offered little.
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