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
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Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals.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.
©2011 St. Martin's Press (P)2011 Macmillan Audio
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!
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.
"Foodiewife" is my moniker for my food blogger personna. With little time to sit and read, I burn through audible books while on the go!
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.
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.
As I fed disc, after disc, into my car audio system, I kept thinking that "The American Heiress" just had to get better. I'd read somewhere that it was worthy of 4 or 5 stars, and I had also been promised that the story could be likened to "Downton Abbey." That comparison is like taking any harlequin romance and equating it to masterpiece novel because they share the same historical timeline. "The American Heiress" is a shallow,
pointless, tale of a fascinating era in which wealthy American nouvelle riche sought
authenticity via English titles. "Downton Abbey" makes this only one of the many
sociological intrigues of its narrative.
The narrator was definitely challenged by having to perform multiple accents and character voices for the book, but she made some of her voice interpretations almost unbearable in their lack of authenticity.
This book and its performance has made me wonder if my membership in Audibles
is going to prove to be worthwhile.
Hopefully..I'll find my way soon....
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?
Something more by D.L. Stevenson or "Rules of Civility" by Towles
In the interests of full disclosure, I must confess to having listened to a mere 48 minutes of this novel before dropping everything to log into Audible and write a review. Maybe it was the book's cover photo that triggered a pleasant connection to Amor Towles's "Rules of Civility." Maybe it was my ravenous appetite for books set in early twentieth century Britain. Maybe it was the beautiful, soft, spring weather that made me open to a book with some romance. Whatever it was, it was a mistake. "The American Heiress" truly could be YA fiction or the book accompanying a new American Girl Doll, "Heiress Daisy." This novel features two dimensional characters and predictable construct. Nothing grabbed me, challenged me or made me care about anything in this book. I take that back, I am left with some melancholy over a dozen dead hummingbirds that did not survive being painted gold for the crass American dinner party.
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.
Yeah, this was only okay. I do wonder how it got mentioned in two different NYTimes stories, one a wrap up of the best summer reading and one a fullblown, and well-received review. It isn't bad, it just isn't that good. Nothing new here - girl and guy meet cute, get married and UGH threat to marriage, which is SPOILER ALERT - overcome. And someone please tell narrators - especially American ones - not to "act," but just read. This one has her duchess voice, and her prince voice and her so on, and they end up just sounding like caricatures and not real people.
I was disspointed in both the performance and the story. The characters were unlikable. Cora is portrayed as a spoiled, immature heiress, and never emerges as more than a shallow, self centered, spoiled woman. The story itself seems to have pointless random peaks, for instance when the maid goes off with her man and is worrying about her mistress, who is being given chloroform to have her baby . The tension builds that something may happen, but then nothing does, and it seems that author just put that in so that she could show us they used choloform during that time period. The narration is given in a whiney, nasal tone, supposed to give us the tone of upper class England, and really got on my nerves after a while. The conclusion of the story has the characters explaining all the undercurrents of the story in one scene, but unbelievable because we don't like them, and don't trust them. I'm sorry, but I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.
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