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The American Heiress: A Novel | [Daisy Goodwin]

The American Heiress: A Novel

Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the 20th 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 Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Life can go in many different directions based on a few simple events. When Cora Cash, a rich American girl seeking a title at the turn of the Century, fell off her horse in a wooded area of the English countryside, fate would have it that an unmarried handsome duke should find her in her hour of distress. The American Heiress, a debut novel from Daisy Goodwin, tells Cora's story of marrying into British royalty and all the politics, scandals, and societal expectations that follow. Katherine Kellgren narrates, giving voice to Cora and a myriad of supporting characters from varying backgrounds, from Americans to Europeans and aristocrats to servants.

As if acclimating herself to a foreign country wasn't difficult enough, upon marrying Ivo, the Duke of Wareham, Cora quickly learns that becoming a duchess has come with a whole new set of stringent rules and expectations from her peers. Kellgren embodies Cora's naiveté and headstrong personality in her narration, expressing frustration in her voice in a gradual crescendo as Cora struggles to find her place among the oppressive British aristocracy. It seems that everyone from the duke's mother, a woman with a sharp tongue and a proclivity for traditions (many that Cora is not familiar with), to the Lord and Lady Beauchamp, the richest and most fashionable couple in the county, has an opinion on how Cora should behave in the upper class, noble arena. Cora dances around these societal expectations with uneasy footing, which only becomes more complicated as she begins to uncover certain nefarious details of her new husband's past.

Goodwin decorates The American Heiress with ornate period details that transport the listener to the English countryside at the turn of the century. Kellgren embraces the significance of time and place in this story, flourishing in the intricate descriptions of Cora's lavish surroundings. There's so much to enjoy about a story that allows you to lose yourself in a foreign setting, to travel with a character to the unknown. Following Cora to England is an alluring introduction to the intriguing world of classic British royalty. —Suzanne Day

Publisher's Summary

Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the 20th 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.

Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, Cora’s story marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James.

©2010 Daisy Goodwin Productions (P)2011 Macmillan Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (486 )
5 star
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3.6 (358 )
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Story
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Performance
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  •  
    Maria Oscoda, MI, United States 06-27-11
    Maria Oscoda, MI, United States 06-27-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    ratings
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    "I loved this book!"

    Books like this come along only once in a very rare while. I loved it! If you're a fan of Jane Austen or Edith Wharton, you'll enjoy it immensely. I judge a book by how badly I want to get back to it and keep listening, and I finished this one in two days. The characters are well-developed, and the narrative beautifully written. The descriptions of the wealth and opulence of the gilded age were breathtaking -- as a female, I really enjoyed the detail about the clothing and manners and protocol. I found myself smiling so many times at the author's use of words, or the impeccable way her characters speak. As one who loves words, I found myself really appreciating how well the use of them flowed perfectly with the desired effect of grandeur and eloquence. Although unlike some gilded age novels, the flowery, descriptive language only added to the plot of the book rather than distracting from it. I fell in love with Cora, as well as all of the other characters -- even the ones I secretly didn't like. And the ending was perfect! The narrator was also magnificent as well. Some narrators really have a hard time pulling off the English accent/American accent mix between the characters, but Kellgren does it perfectly. I loved the way each of her characters sounded, and it only added to the complexity of this book. I thought overall it was fantastic and would highly recommend it!

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Constance USA 06-24-11
    Constance USA 06-24-11 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    8
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    "Author???s first novel is a success"

    I was delighted to listen to a romance novel that was written intelligently, witty and romantic. This story was not burdened with graphic sex or cheesy unrealistic scenes. Ms Goodwin is a wonderful story teller. The Narrator did a great job and only added to the experience.

    23 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debby United States 07-08-11
    Debby United States 07-08-11 Member Since 2007

    Foodiewife

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well narrated. Gets better towards the end."

    I'm a fan of historical fiction. This book didn't deliver much on history, but opened my eyes to the aristocrats, but not in a flattering way . The narrator does a great job, with both the female and male characters. But, I found myself rolling my eyes at the droll English accents-- wondering to myself "do the Duchesses really talk like this?" How would I know? I've never met one. The book droned on a bit, I felt. I found myself growing weary of the characters-- until, at last, the plot began to thicken. Not the best book I've ever listened to, but the narrator kept me wanting to stick to the end.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    traceydriscoll dublin, Ireland 07-18-11
    traceydriscoll dublin, Ireland 07-18-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    3
    2
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    "Good narration, decent story....fairly predictable"

    Im not sure i'd spend my money on this if I had a 2nd chance. Not because it wasnt well narrated or well written - both of which it was - HOWEVER, the storyline was So predictable I found myself skipping forward. In summary, a decent book to fall to sleep with. Its wealthy heiress meets dwindling fortuned lord - Downton Abbey mixed with Withering Heights. Decent but needs a new Twist.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy New Mexico 02-08-12
    Kathy New Mexico 02-08-12 Member Since 2007

    Kathy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting period piece"

    I read many of the reviews of this novel before I decided to purchase it. Many of them gave a mixed opinion. I'd say that is a good description. The American Heiress definitely represented the wealthy, semi-selfish American heiress who had a rough time adjusting to the titled English society. Her husband is at the opposite end of the spectrum being a semi-self-centered penniless English lord. The author contrasted the two cultures well. She developed the characters well enough so that I wanted things to work out but at the end, I was just glad to see it end. The narrator did a clear job of differentiating the various characters which added to the story. This was a good book and justly deserved a good rating but I didn't quite love it.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Jane Sweet Texas 03-09-14
    Mary Jane Sweet Texas 03-09-14 Member Since 2007

    mjsweet

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "enjoyable escapism"

    I like Katherine Kellgren's narrations so much i tried a different genre and quite unexpectedly enjoyed this romance. The heroine, Cora Cash, is nicely rounded as a character, however the Duke could use more fleshing out. BUT this did not stop me from enjoying the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise Barker Columbia South Carolina 03-14-13
    Denise Barker Columbia South Carolina 03-14-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Could have been better"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I wanted more of the story, more character development. She didn't go very deep into any of them really, story was a bit predictable.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Not sure, I wanted to know more about the characters. It was an interesting perspective of the time, also the excess of wealthy Americans during this time and the struggle of the British aristocracy.


    What about Katherine Kellgren’s performance did you like?

    She did great transitions from American to English accents, something that usually slips in books like this.


    Was The American Heiress worth the listening time?

    It was an interesting story of the time period, always makes me glad to be a woman now, not then!


    Any additional comments?

    Would read more from this author.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly Yosemite, CA, United States 11-15-12
    Holly Yosemite, CA, United States 11-15-12 Member Since 2011

    hollyclimber

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting and Compelling"

    The story was compelling - at times I felt the emotions of Cora as she was pushed around or dominated by different characters. I totally disagree with a review I read where it said "nothing happened", but then maybe that was written by a man. The only complaint I had was the abrubt ending that was a little short of totally believable, like the writer ran out of time/room so just wanted us to trust her on that was how it ended instead of letting us feel it, like with everything else in the story. Overall it was worth reading and I enjoyed the notes in the back (again in spite of what another reviewer said about that). I read this on Kindle and listened on Audible. I thought that option was overpriced, but nice.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer CA, United States 04-28-12
    Amazon Customer CA, United States 04-28-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    283
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    "Scandalously Good"

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Daisy Goodwin’s debut (?!) An American Heiress. It had shades of Edith Wharton and even more so Dominick Dunne. It tells mostly of Cora Cash, the richest American heiress of her generation who all her life has been coached in one art—marrying well. It ends up better than she could of hoped when she chances upon a Duke and quickly becomes Duchess of Wereham. But her reception in England is mixed as she is forced to navigate the unfamiliar rules and contend with a moody husband. We also get glimpses of her title grabbing mother, her good hearted but opportunistic maid, and the American boy she left behind which really completes the circle of the late 1800’s society life. Sure it’s a little formulaic, and it’s gossipy, and the characters come off abrasive in the beginning (not helped by an aggressive over narration by Katharine Kelgren), but the story does develop and before you realize it you are completely sucked into Cora’s cause. I’ve read that the character may have been inspired by Consuelo Vanderbilt. Could you ask for a more perfect commute companion?

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori Mcbride Owasso, OK United States 07-17-11
    Lori Mcbride Owasso, OK United States 07-17-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "Might be worst.book.ever"

    Good narrator, awful plot and it all suddenly comes together at the end like she didn't know how to end it. I think this was under the romance section and it shouldn't be, just should be fiction. Not a lot of romance or likability to any one character in this book, and a leading man with the name of IVO really?!??!

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
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