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Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, The American Heiress marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Be careful what you wish for. 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 d Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, The American Heiress marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Be careful what you wish for. 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 Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals.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. 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.


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Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, The American Heiress marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Be careful what you wish for. 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 d Witty, moving, and brilliantly entertaining, The American Heiress marks the debut of a glorious storyteller who brings a fresh new spirit to the world of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Be careful what you wish for. 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 Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals.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. 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.

30 review for The American Heiress

  1. 5 out of 5

    MAP

    There are 3 things that happened in this book that made it an impossibility to take it remotely seriously, even if the rest of the book had been the pinnacle of sophisticated literature (it wasn't.) Yes, within 15 pages, we have girls kissing, less than halfway through the book, an artist references what will become known in the 21st century as the progenitor of all uncomfortable anime-based bestiality fantasies (God, the things I learned as an art history minor), and...ok, well Constable Odo f There are 3 things that happened in this book that made it an impossibility to take it remotely seriously, even if the rest of the book had been the pinnacle of sophisticated literature (it wasn't.) Yes, within 15 pages, we have girls kissing, less than halfway through the book, an artist references what will become known in the 21st century as the progenitor of all uncomfortable anime-based bestiality fantasies (God, the things I learned as an art history minor), and...ok, well Constable Odo from Deep Space 9 isn't actually in this book, but there IS a character named "Odo" and this was all I could imagine. Beyond all that, this book just wasn't what it was supposed to be. I got the sense that it was trying to be some sort of mix of Dangerous Liaisons and Upstairs Downstairs, but it got caught in this middle ground between romance and historical fiction, which makes it not romancy enough enough for the romancers and waaaaaaaaaay too fluffy and shallow for anyone interested in actual historical fiction. And never mind the fact that nothing, not one single thing, happens during the course of this entire book. NOTHING. Oh, and I know this is snobby of me to say, but nothing makes me more annoyed than when I read little pieces of meaningless fluff like this and then there's "discussion questions" in the back of the book, like it's freaking Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five or something. There is nothing in this book that requires thought or interpretation. Stop pretending like there is. ARRGH.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Honestly, I didn't enjoy this book. I hated Cora and what was with Ivo and his menopausal mood swings? And all this calling people just 'Duke' or 'Duchess' when addressing them is absolutely horrid!! I cannot believe that I actually read this through. Spoilers follow (sort of): I can't ruin the plot, there isn't one. I can't ruin the ending, it just stops. There was one character that I liked in that entire book... and that was Bertha & to be honest, we get next to nothing to show if she will ever e Honestly, I didn't enjoy this book. I hated Cora and what was with Ivo and his menopausal mood swings? And all this calling people just 'Duke' or 'Duchess' when addressing them is absolutely horrid!! I cannot believe that I actually read this through. Spoilers follow (sort of): I can't ruin the plot, there isn't one. I can't ruin the ending, it just stops. There was one character that I liked in that entire book... and that was Bertha & to be honest, we get next to nothing to show if she will ever enjoy a single moments happiness. The author in my view spent far too long dressing people in Mouselline from Paris (very repetitively, I might add) & not enough time making things happen. When anything did happen in the book, she just sort of glossed over it... including a woman having her head set on fire (the set up ws far too obvious) & fisticuffs in the long gallery (well, sort of... ish). Things which I think were supposed to be really important didn't get the build up that they needed and other things were built up so much and then came to nothing. Besides all of which, what, after all of that, she just takes his word for it? I'd have enjoyed it more if she'd just married the van leyder hosen (I know that's not his actual name, but that's how it stuck in my head) from the get go & not flopped around the South Coast naming men Odo and Ivo & other strange & unusual epithets. I don't often do reviews of books, but this is the second time I've persevered with a book of this ilk waiting for the plot to begin, only to find that there isn't one. Luckily, this was a library book, which will be going back shortly!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Siany

    I haven't really fully made my mind up about this book. It wasn't a Mills and Boon type of book, it was more filled out than that and was over 400 pages. However if you were to ask me how it was filled out more, I am at a slight loss how to answer. To be honest, a lot of stuff probably could have been cut out of this and if wanted, could have easily have been made into a M & B...without the sex and loving hero that is. The Duke Ivo - well he was pretty much a useless male lead. Usually the lead ma I haven't really fully made my mind up about this book. It wasn't a Mills and Boon type of book, it was more filled out than that and was over 400 pages. However if you were to ask me how it was filled out more, I am at a slight loss how to answer. To be honest, a lot of stuff probably could have been cut out of this and if wanted, could have easily have been made into a M & B...without the sex and loving hero that is. The Duke Ivo - well he was pretty much a useless male lead. Usually the lead man in books has his faults but comes through in the end, and I suppose in his way he did. But I didn't like him and he had no redeeming features in my opinion. Cora Cash (fab name) was actually a fairly likeable character in the end, she wasnt as spoiled and vain as expected, she really did marry him for love but couldnt understand why Ivo was the way he was with her. I felt sorry for her being lumped with him. But there were times that I was really annoyed with her and was silently yelling at her to grow a backbone and stick up for herself against everyone. Really there were no characters that was relatable or even that likeable as a whole. Yet I found I couldn't put the book down, I had to know what was going to happen next. So in that sense it was a very good book because it had my curiousity aroused. The ending could have been better. Confrontations were building up throughout the whole book yet they kinda fizzled out at the end, which was disappointing. I did like the author's style of writing, I just felt that the book was a bit too long, and it could have had some stuff taken out. I suppose has a whole I did like it, but its not something I would read again. Once was enough. I am not sure I would anythng else from this author either. 7/10

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Louden

    what a waste of time. I would like to go back and read Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton to see why a book like that sticks with me and a book like this only makes a plane ride tolerable. The writing is perfectly adequate but there is no depth, no real feeling.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    I just loved this book. It was so up my alley. Two of my favorite books are Gone With the Wind and Forever Amber and this was sort of a mash up of those. Okay, this was not as a sweeping saga as those two books but it borrowed elements from them. There may have been nothing really new offered here but I don't care. It was the exact kind of story that keeps me turning the pages and removes me from the drudgery of housework. The story centers around Cora Cash (love the name) who is rich beyond beli I just loved this book. It was so up my alley. Two of my favorite books are Gone With the Wind and Forever Amber and this was sort of a mash up of those. Okay, this was not as a sweeping saga as those two books but it borrowed elements from them. There may have been nothing really new offered here but I don't care. It was the exact kind of story that keeps me turning the pages and removes me from the drudgery of housework. The story centers around Cora Cash (love the name) who is rich beyond belief as we are reminded every other page. Her mother lacks only one thing that money can't buy, a royal title, so she dispatches Cora off across the pond to land a duke. Cora is rich and pretty, Duke is handsome and poor, bingo! The Duke and Cora come to the marriage with their baggage from the past in the form of Charlotte and Teddy respectively. Of course the path to happily ever after cannot be smooth or there wouldn't be a story. Cue the misunderstandings and lost opportunities and you have the bulk of this book with a dollop of happy ending like a cherry on top. The supporting members of the cast such as Cora's maid and mother and the Duke's best friend round out the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book like a hunk Godiva chocolate.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    Slightly tepid period yarn that falls between the two stools of Romantic and 'Literary' fiction. Clearly inspired by the likes of Wharton, Waugh and Austen (indeed, in thrall to them), the novel simply warms over themes and story lines that were looking decidedly over-used two generations ago. People like Wharton were writing about their own time, of course, so the social critique had some point to it. Here there is none at all, unless we are being asked to believe that nothing has changed. The Slightly tepid period yarn that falls between the two stools of Romantic and 'Literary' fiction. Clearly inspired by the likes of Wharton, Waugh and Austen (indeed, in thrall to them), the novel simply warms over themes and story lines that were looking decidedly over-used two generations ago. People like Wharton were writing about their own time, of course, so the social critique had some point to it. Here there is none at all, unless we are being asked to believe that nothing has changed. The writing is sound, but far from sparkling, sadly.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Possibly the soapiest dish of a book I've ever read. If you're feeling Downton Abbey withdrawls this is the book for you :)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Anze

    "Oh, Cora, can you believe that there are some things in life that can't be bought?" Cora Cash has it all: youth, beauty, money and fame. Her family is one of the most known and recognized and their wealth far surpasses that of the majority. With a lavish lifestyle and wanting for nothing, Cora should be set for life except that there is something that her mother wants (for herself more so than her daughter) that can not be bought: a title. With this in mind, the Cash family set out from America "Oh, Cora, can you believe that there are some things in life that can't be bought?" Cora Cash has it all: youth, beauty, money and fame. Her family is one of the most known and recognized and their wealth far surpasses that of the majority. With a lavish lifestyle and wanting for nothing, Cora should be set for life except that there is something that her mother wants (for herself more so than her daughter) that can not be bought: a title. With this in mind, the Cash family set out from America to England to find Cora an English nobleman. In time, their wish becomes true and Cora becomes engaged to Ivo of Wareham, a Duke. As Duchess of Wareham however, Cora realizes that within these grand walls, life is far from being the fairytale she envisoned. This was an entertaining and dramatic book and it read much like an olden days version of a gossip magazine. Cora Cash is a vivacious and headstrong young woman. Due to her wealth, she occupies a privileged place in society. None can match her zeal or economic reach. There is however something that the Cash money can not buy and that a status of nobility. Intent on having their daughter marry a royal, the Cash family leave New York for England. Amid dinners and parties, Cora is introduced to English society and by chance meets Ivo, the Duke of Wareham. Cora grows quite fond of Ivo and and is thrilled when he proposes. But much as Cora is marrying for love, she knows this is a transaction for both parties. She gets the status and he gets access to her vast wealth (which because of his family's debts and the wear & tear of the Wareham estate he definitely needs). Still becoming the Duchess of Wareham is a dream come true. But when the wedding and honeymoon are over, Cora realizes that the glamour, decadence and excesses of living as a royal helps hide much complicated and trying life. Its time to avoid scandals and follow protocol, though that is easier said than done. I have to say that I quite enjoyed this book. Loosely based on the life of Consuelo Vanderderbilt (a real life American Duchess). The narrative flowed nicely and depicted 1800's England in all its splendor and chaos. Cora started out as naive and spoiled but grew into a much more confident and smart woman. Life as a Duchess is not all glamour and fun. The distinctions between the royals and the servants made for an intense and notorious contrast. Much as Cora has a title now, because she is American she is not quite accepted by the Wareham staff, English society or her motherin-law. I do have some qualms though. There were characters that, in my humble opinion, needed to be a bit more fleshed out. I am thinking about Mrs. Cash, the duke and his mother. I also wanted something more with the storyline about Bertha, Cora's personal maid. Another issue for me was the ending. At first I thought I must have missed a few pages but it was not the case. The ending felt too abrupt making it feel rather inconclusive and messy. All and all, this was an entertaining and interesting book. I now can not wait to read about the real Consuela Vanderbilt (coincidentally I already have American Duchess by Karen Harper on my shelves now).

  9. 5 out of 5

    benebean

    I really really hate Ivo and Jim. How dare Ivo be so angry when he caused his wife to run into social problems by witholding information that would have made her more cautious. He keeps claiming to love her but then not only doesn't help her when she becomes hurt by his effort to hide his own indiscretions, but becomes angry with her. He never actually does anything for her when she gets hurt, and only admits what he's done when it becomes possible that he might lose something he wants. In other I really really hate Ivo and Jim. How dare Ivo be so angry when he caused his wife to run into social problems by witholding information that would have made her more cautious. He keeps claiming to love her but then not only doesn't help her when she becomes hurt by his effort to hide his own indiscretions, but becomes angry with her. He never actually does anything for her when she gets hurt, and only admits what he's done when it becomes possible that he might lose something he wants. In other words, he's only willing to sacrifice for himself and not for her. That's selfish and NOT loving as he claimed. I possibly hate Jim more than Ivo. He's only interested in getting laid by Bertha, never interested in her as a person. Even in the end, he breaks his promise of secrecy to her for his own selfish purposes-- namely he's worried he won't get to sleep with her anymore. If he was even minutely worried about her, he should have at least known that her mother had died or that her mother was ill. Also, I never understood how tricking/cleverly manipulating a guy into marrying you would seem like a good idea. Why would you want to be with a guy who didn't want to be with you without you needing to use guile. And why would you want to be with Jim even if you didn't need to use guile?! The best part of this book was the comparison between the relationships between servants and masters in England and the U.S. and how the cultures differed in both good treatment and maltreatment of their servants. 2.5

  10. 5 out of 5

    Yellow Rose

    This book is a complete train wreck Cora goes from a witty character to a complete bore and a fool.She is completely oblivious to the Dukes rendezvous with Charlotte even after she is told that the Duke has cheated from three people. Also the Duke escorts Charlotte in front of Cora and everyone else making it obvious that they are lovers. Once Jim tells about Cora's plans to leave him, then he explains himself giving no sound explanation by just repeating that he has not cheated with Charlotte w This book is a complete train wreck Cora goes from a witty character to a complete bore and a fool.She is completely oblivious to the Dukes rendezvous with Charlotte even after she is told that the Duke has cheated from three people. Also the Duke escorts Charlotte in front of Cora and everyone else making it obvious that they are lovers. Once Jim tells about Cora's plans to leave him, then he explains himself giving no sound explanation by just repeating that he has not cheated with Charlotte which is a complete lie if the novel were true. He is a poor excuse for a husband he leaves her alone during her pregnancy even though he knows that it is not her fault that the whole scene with the eccentric painter was devised by Charlotte. Even though I found Teddy to be despicable although I would have liked him ending up with Cora, just so to make the Duke suffer for once. In the beginning and the middle of the novel I liked Cora's character then by the end of the novel she became completely spineless she could not even control the servants. In fact my favorite character by far was Odo he exposed everything that needed to be exposed about Charlotte's and Dukes romance and made Charlotte's life unhappy. I did not like how the characters were separated so much and by far their was not enough romance, if however Duke was not in such a despicable situation with Charlotte then the whole lack of intimacy could've been ignored, however by the last few chapters I was disgusted by the way the novel was going and decided to give a one star. And believe me up until up to the eccentric painter I affair I was willing to give it five stars. Overall if you have nothing other to do and you like super spineless heroines this is for you, but if you have better books and better things to do stay away from this garbage.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Touted as the perfect book for someone missing the upstairs/downstairs genius of Downton Abbey, this story fulfills not only the historical aspect of wealthy American women marrying into financially-suffering English aristocratic families, but also the mannerisms, style, and attitudes of the day. What it didn't do, however, was deliver the intrigue and scandals of this fastidiously elite section of society. Sure there is scandal, but the reader (if paying attention) can see it coming from the fi Touted as the perfect book for someone missing the upstairs/downstairs genius of Downton Abbey, this story fulfills not only the historical aspect of wealthy American women marrying into financially-suffering English aristocratic families, but also the mannerisms, style, and attitudes of the day. What it didn't do, however, was deliver the intrigue and scandals of this fastidiously elite section of society. Sure there is scandal, but the reader (if paying attention) can see it coming from the first third of the story-- which begins a tedious waiting game while the reader turns the pages to see if the main character, Cora, will finally find something out. When she finally does, the villain is suddenly abhorrent. There is very little to preclude the attitude that arises from this character, who, has been rather flat for the entirety of the story. When all is finally revealed, the rest of the story wraps up in roughly ten pages, making The American Heiress a steep incline of a setup with a very small step of a conclusion. If you want to read about early 20th century fashion, overbearing mothers who will stop at nothing for a title, and the assimilation of an American into English society, then by all means, read this book. If you're looking for a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat and then tie up all of the loose ends in a satisfying, but thorough, manner, you may want to read something else.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    The reviews I read for this book were wishy-washy and didn’t really give me a reason to not read the book, but it only took one to convince me to definitely read it…“Anyone suffering Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms (who isn’t?) will find an instant tonic in Daisy Goodwin’s The American Heiress. The story of Cora Cash, an American heiress in the 1890s who bags an English duke, this is a deliciously evocative first novel that lingers in the mind.” –Allison Pearson. Um, yes please. Downton Abbey The reviews I read for this book were wishy-washy and didn’t really give me a reason to not read the book, but it only took one to convince me to definitely read it…“Anyone suffering Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms (who isn’t?) will find an instant tonic in Daisy Goodwin’s The American Heiress. The story of Cora Cash, an American heiress in the 1890s who bags an English duke, this is a deliciously evocative first novel that lingers in the mind.” –Allison Pearson. Um, yes please. Downton Abbey was my jaaaaaaam when it was airing a few months ago. I still love it although I’m trying this new thing where I don’t obsess/fangirl more than is healthy for me. (Damn those addictive personalities.) Anyway, diving into the Guilded Age through books was the next best thing. Not only did this deliver on historical atmosphere, but it definitely shared a similar tone with Downton Abbey that had me hooked. MINOR SPOILERS BEYOND… We learn from the beginning that the Cash family is new money and has the biggest mansion on Fifth Avenue but Mrs. Cash wants more – she wants a title. Her only daughter, Cora, just so happens to be the key to that coveted title. In the beginning, Cora is trying to go after her longtime friend, Teddy, whom she’s been flirting with all season while their families summer in Newport (Rhode Island…the OC wasn’t cool yet.) Everything seems to be going according to plan for Cora before they set sail for Europe when a disaster at her coming out party leads her mother to become even more controlling. Once in jolly old England, Mrs. Cash makes it her goal to have Cora introduced to the best and the brightest of the entitled British. Cora seems happy enough but it’s become somewhat of a trend – rich, American girls looking for old, English titles – and some of the men are less than gentlemanly…until she meets Ivo. The best part of Cora’s relationship with Ivo, in my opinion, is that it wasn’t a product of her mother’s scheming at all, simply luck of the draw. There’s an air of mystery about Ivo from the beginning and it seems to draw Cora in deeper before she even realizes what’s happening. Next thing you know, the biggest wedding of the year is taking place at Trinity Church in Manhattan (yes, that church) and Cora becomes the Duchess. Sigh. Let’s not talk about my love affair with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge right now, ok? Ok. So she’s a duchess and everyone’s happy…or are they? Dun dun dun. The angst and the drama ensue and while it’s expected and heavily hinted at, the drama plays out quite nicely and it’s easy to still love practically every character (except for Charlotte, she sucks.) The characters were fantastic in this book; just what I would want to read about in this time period. Whereas stories like The Luxe have failed to draw me because of their melodrama, these characters maintain throughout the story and their drama is minimal, all things considered. While no one is a saint in The American Heiress – the book opens with Cora practicing kissing with her maid – they’re all redeemable, relatable and attractive. Ivo is the epitome of tall, dark and handsome and even when I knew he was being shady, I still knew that he was good at heart. There’s just something about the way that Cora and Ivo were written that made you believe that not only were they meant for each other, but they’d also be good for each other. The experiences they had with each other weren’t what either had expected and the adjusting and difficult but believable and helps maintain your faith in them. I wouldn’t call this fluff but it won’t tear your heart out either. It was a classically romantic tale that truly captured the essence of the Guilded Age and has me yearning for more. Definitely recommend this.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn

    Into every traveler's life (if he or she purchases flight reading in the rush before departure)some surprisingly good, and sometimes bad, books will likely fall. In this case, unfortunately, the surprise wasn't so good. From its packaging--including blurbs and author 'endorsements'--to its very plot, this book shamelessly piggybacks off the Downton Abbey phenomenon. Even the young heiress's name, Cora, is shamelessly 'Downtonian'. I'd hoped for something that expanded on and maybe amplified the Into every traveler's life (if he or she purchases flight reading in the rush before departure)some surprisingly good, and sometimes bad, books will likely fall. In this case, unfortunately, the surprise wasn't so good. From its packaging--including blurbs and author 'endorsements'--to its very plot, this book shamelessly piggybacks off the Downton Abbey phenomenon. Even the young heiress's name, Cora, is shamelessly 'Downtonian'. I'd hoped for something that expanded on and maybe amplified the entire Gilded era experience of American Heiresses who married into the British aristocracy for the title and were married for the money they brought to the union, but this novel merely repeated in a lugubrious, unoriginal and painfully plodding fashion the same basic, all-too familiar plot points. Naive American makes a brilliant match, and with little prior preparation and no advance tutoring, bumbles into British upper crust society making a fool of herself in front of all those self-satisfied twits, till she unearths a startling (albeit highly predictable) 'secret' about her aristocratic husband. The story was stale, the writing lacking any craft or finesse and there wasn't one plot 'twist' that hadn't been loudly and clumsily telegraphed from the get-go. You'd do better rewatching Downton rather than spending any time with this book...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cora Tea Party Princess

    It was hard to read the beginning of the book - I did not care for Cora at all, not one jot. And it's always hard to care for a book when you don't care for a character. I thought she was very VERY selfish. Hideously so. But by the end of the book I found that I had started to care for her. I don't know when this started, because the character of Cora in the opening chapters was quite vile. But it was good that I had started to care for her - it gave the story more strength and showed that Cora ha It was hard to read the beginning of the book - I did not care for Cora at all, not one jot. And it's always hard to care for a book when you don't care for a character. I thought she was very VERY selfish. Hideously so. But by the end of the book I found that I had started to care for her. I don't know when this started, because the character of Cora in the opening chapters was quite vile. But it was good that I had started to care for her - it gave the story more strength and showed that Cora had developed greatly as a character. It made my intense dislike for Charlotte and the Double Duchess stronger. And Bertha is a great character, especially with Cora. I can't say I cared for her beau at all, but he was a bit of a prick, seemingly after only one thing. It was weird that the smart Bertha would want to be with him, but maybe he was the only one to see through the colour of her skin (or maybe that was the reason for his attraction).

  15. 5 out of 5

    B the BookAddict

    puhleese! By pg 114, give me some picture, some back story, some description – something! I still have really no idea what Cora looks like, have little idea of her back-story, cannot picture any scenes that I'm reading about. This is set in 1890s American and English upper class society; a huge wealth of information could have be utilized in order to set this novel - it is a pity the author did not use it. The dialogue is empty, vacuous and - oh, why am I bothering here. Take my advice - read som puhleese! By pg 114, give me some picture, some back story, some description – something! I still have really no idea what Cora looks like, have little idea of her back-story, cannot picture any scenes that I'm reading about. This is set in 1890s American and English upper class society; a huge wealth of information could have be utilized in order to set this novel - it is a pity the author did not use it. The dialogue is empty, vacuous and - oh, why am I bothering here. Take my advice - read something else!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    It took me a while to get through this one. It was a fairly 'meaty' read. Set in the 1890s, it begins in the US, the time of the 'Gilded Age'. Although it's fiction, some have suggested the MC, Cora Cash, extraordinarily rich American 'princess', is loosely based on the real-life Consuelo Vanderbilt, who also married an English duke. Although it's a fascinating period to read about, I didn't really enjoy the first section of the book. This was mainly due to the repulsive character of Cora's moth It took me a while to get through this one. It was a fairly 'meaty' read. Set in the 1890s, it begins in the US, the time of the 'Gilded Age'. Although it's fiction, some have suggested the MC, Cora Cash, extraordinarily rich American 'princess', is loosely based on the real-life Consuelo Vanderbilt, who also married an English duke. Although it's a fascinating period to read about, I didn't really enjoy the first section of the book. This was mainly due to the repulsive character of Cora's mother. She was depicted as desperate to marry her daughter off to a title, preferably a duke, and nothing was going to stand in her way. Mrs Cash is shown to be extremely bullying towards Cora, her only child. Manipulative, controlling, cruel, vulgar, overly competitive, egotistical, are all words that could be used to describe her. Cora seemed like a reasonable enough person, but her character was quite flat beside her revolting mother. I wanted to see more of Cora's personality shine through, and I wanted to see far less of her horrible parents. (Her father brazenly had a string of mistresses, buying his wife off with new jewellery each time he got a new mistress. Ugh!!) Once the Cashes moved to England (so Cora could ensnare her 'title'), the story took a more interesting turn. Cora soon met Ivo, Duke of Wareham, and they were genuinely attracted to each other. Cora in fact fell in love with Ivo and was eager to marry him. But the writer revealed little about the real nature of Ivo, and readers are left uncertain of his true feelings for much of the book. It is clear he likes, perhaps even loves Cora, but what are his real motives? It is not until the very end of this quite long book that we actually find out. Obviously this is to create some suspense and to sustain the storyline, but this reader found it very frustrating. I wanted very much to see more of the inner workings of Ivo and Cora's relationship, and yes, I wanted more romance. It was all a bit too cool and unknowable for most of the book. Bertha, Cora's African-American personal maid, was an interesting character, and a device that enabled us to see the 'below stairs' workings of the great houses, as well as a little of Cora's inner life. But other characters were almost as repulsive as Mrs Cash. Ivo's mother, Duchess Fanny, for example, was just awful. So cruel to both her son and to her new daughter-in-law. And Charlotte was also a nasty and unpleasant piece of work; cold and calculating and underhand. One thing I didn't like about the book was the slighting references to the 'old world' English characters and places. The debutantes (apart from a few beauties) were described as if they were mostly ugly, inbred, insipid. The servants were mean and set in their ways. The houses were damp and crumbling etc etc. Only the Americans, it seemed, were healthy and attractive and had comfortable houses. While no doubt there were elements of truth here (!) the generalisations annoyed me and seemed disrespectful. So the plethora of unlikeable characters didn't make for the most enjoyable read. I'm even on the fence about Ivo, as he did not give Cora the support and kindness she needed, even though he supposedly loved her. It didn't feel like it! Overall I think the book had a lot of potential, but I read a review that called it 'tepid', and I think that's how I found it too. Where was the passion and the deeply moving romance? Not in this book....... Having said all of that, I think this kind of story could be made into a terrific TV mini-series. With a hot actor and actress playing the leads, it might bring some much-needed life to the slightly flat book as it is. I did enjoy the book on some levels, and I did finish the whole thing, but I was left with quite a few frustrations and reservations.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Mac

    He looked at the older man's handsome, acquiescent face and he felt a wave of rage and scorn flood through him. They were all going to pretend that nothing had happened, they would leave the unpleasantness behind and go on serenely like swans sailing over filthy water. And Cora would have no choice but to swim with them, never looking down. A fun book; easy to read & get lost in, though not terribly sophisticated prose-wise. But sophisticated prose isn't the goal here. If you want to wallow in a He looked at the older man's handsome, acquiescent face and he felt a wave of rage and scorn flood through him. They were all going to pretend that nothing had happened, they would leave the unpleasantness behind and go on serenely like swans sailing over filthy water. And Cora would have no choice but to swim with them, never looking down. A fun book; easy to read & get lost in, though not terribly sophisticated prose-wise. But sophisticated prose isn't the goal here. If you want to wallow in a similar story type with glorious verbosity & detailed emotional response, read Edith Wharton -- she's a great writer, & no mistake. But if you want an engaging, relaxing story with escapist overtones, vintage clothing porn, & the occasional OMGWTF chuckle, read this one instead. The above blurb features Cora's ex Teddy, who has the luxury of observing a rich American/impoverished Brit marriage from a safe distance...except even Teddy has a stake their marital success, because he had the opportunity to run away with Cora & was too chickenshit to do it. Such hyper-vigilant (or just plain curious) observation of Cora's life is a major motif of AMERICAN HEIRESS. Cora, despite initially preening beneath the microscopic gaze of so many onlookers, becomes increasingly disillusioned by the oppressive weight of smug expectation & hypocritical standards, particularly amongst her English associates. It's a novel that veers into tragedy -- not like Hamlet or Oedipus, but rather the tragedy of a dead social structure & a people who were unwilling to bury it with dignity. Cora might be a spoiled, pampered chit with more money than God, but she comes by her attitude honestly. Ivo, on the other hand, is unbearable in his sneering, entitled hypocrisy & unwillingness to let go of a past that he doesn't even want (or so he claims). The overall attitude of British aristos in this book is positively nauseating -- but that's the point. Edith Wharton has a justified place in literary history, but entertaining trash like AMERICAN HEIRESS shouldn't be afraid to include a subtle (or maybe not so subtle?) dig at the people therein. Because like it or not, both sides deserve it. The conspicuous consumption of robber barons & holier-than-thou rituals of their British counterparts add up to the same ridiculously bloated self-worth & destruction of lives -- which is the ultimate message of Wharton *and* this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Heather C

    I have not encountered a novel that has been set (at least partially) in Newport, Rhode Island during the golden age of the “summer cottages” of the mega wealthy. It is such a beautiful setting and is probably one of the few settings in the United States that can evoke such a vivid world as European castles of old. Only a small portion of the novel is set here before it moves into well known Victorian England – but it still brought gorgeous pictures to mind. It was also refreshing to read a roman I have not encountered a novel that has been set (at least partially) in Newport, Rhode Island during the golden age of the “summer cottages” of the mega wealthy. It is such a beautiful setting and is probably one of the few settings in the United States that can evoke such a vivid world as European castles of old. Only a small portion of the novel is set here before it moves into well known Victorian England – but it still brought gorgeous pictures to mind. It was also refreshing to read a romance novel for a change. This book treads more heavily on the romance side of the coin than the historical but there is enough there to certainly give you the sense of Victorian England. We even get to have Prince Bertie as a relatively important side character. It was also very interesting to see American upper class society juxtaposed against the English upper class – they were vastly different and it became quite an important plot device throughout the novel. This was a great read and even though it ended in possibly not the most ideal situation it was still what I was rooting for. I even held off finishing the book for a few days because I really didn’t want it to end – it was such an enjoyable ride. I would certainly love to read another book by this author, it was a great debut. And on a completely random note – I think the author had inspired choices for character names – I am particularly fond of Cora Cash! he narrator was wonderful. She was a very flexible reader and had great accents for all of her characters. She had to switch between American and British accents throughout the story and I thought this was done seamlessly. At the end of the novel there was an interview with the author which was a wonderful treat. One thing that I found quite interesting was that she had never written dialogue before and so she would often read it out loud to hear how it sounded – which I think was perfect preparation for an audiobook. This book was received for review from the publisher - I was not compensated for my opinions and the above is my honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Angt27

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was deeply disappointing. Its no better than a historical Mills and Boon. I like a good historical Mills and Boon, but I need to know what I'm getting in for and 'My Last Duchess' did not promote itself like that at all. Basically, an unlikeable, boring, American heiress falls in the path of a possibly likeable, maybe interesting impoverished English Duke. He proposes. She accepts. There are two awful mothers and each party has an exflame to contend with before they can find resolution This book was deeply disappointing. Its no better than a historical Mills and Boon. I like a good historical Mills and Boon, but I need to know what I'm getting in for and 'My Last Duchess' did not promote itself like that at all. Basically, an unlikeable, boring, American heiress falls in the path of a possibly likeable, maybe interesting impoverished English Duke. He proposes. She accepts. There are two awful mothers and each party has an exflame to contend with before they can find resolution and happiness in their marriage. There was some suspense as I wasn't sure whether the conclusion was going to be traditional (duke + heiress = happiness) or shocking (heiress + exflame = happiness), but this was more because the characters were so badly drawn that I couldn't see any of them being deserving of the titles hero or heroine. I would have preferred the suspense to be because I cared about the characters and wanted things to turn out happily for them. The only subplot was the romance of the servants, which was boring. The author told the story from multiple viewpoints and sometimes from completely unnecessary ones, such as a milliner watching the wedding or a telegraph boy. It seemed to me that the author had found some interesting information about these professions and couldn't bare to leave it out though it didn't contribute to the plot or character development at all. Verdict: Don't waste your time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    MaryannC. Book Freak

    I was totally engrossed in this book. The story is about a wealthy,spirited young woman during the late 1890's who has her world at her feet. Cora was self-centered,beautiful, spoiled and vain. But, I also thought she knew deep down what was ultimately inportant to her and her happiness. I loved the rich,sumptuous details of the ball gowns and the grand surroundings. I thought the author did an excellent job of portraying the haughtiness and wealth of the people of this era. I can only imagine w I was totally engrossed in this book. The story is about a wealthy,spirited young woman during the late 1890's who has her world at her feet. Cora was self-centered,beautiful, spoiled and vain. But, I also thought she knew deep down what was ultimately inportant to her and her happiness. I loved the rich,sumptuous details of the ball gowns and the grand surroundings. I thought the author did an excellent job of portraying the haughtiness and wealth of the people of this era. I can only imagine what the Astors and Vanderbilts were like. For me, this was a book to get lost in with all it's wonderful descriptions.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mindy

    I was in a bit of a book funk when I picked this book up. I had started to read several books, but this is the only one I couldn't stop reading. It was predictable in some ways but unpredictable in other ways. I enjoyed all the period detail and the upstairs/downstairs stuff. Definitely right book, right time!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Becki

    Cheaters never prosper....except in Daisy Goodwin novels. Dull and filled with manipulative male leads and weak bellied females.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    WORST BOOK EVER. This may be a slight exaggeration, but if "The American Heiress" is not the worst book ever, it's certainly has to be the worst book I've read in 2011. Or 2010. And in 2010 I read "The Help", so that's saying a lot. I decided to get this after seeing it listed on a GoodReads newsletter. I have an irrational weakness for period dramas and ever since hearing that Julian Fellowes was inspired to write "Downton Abbey" by a book he was reading about the rash American heiresses who ma WORST BOOK EVER. This may be a slight exaggeration, but if "The American Heiress" is not the worst book ever, it's certainly has to be the worst book I've read in 2011. Or 2010. And in 2010 I read "The Help", so that's saying a lot. I decided to get this after seeing it listed on a GoodReads newsletter. I have an irrational weakness for period dramas and ever since hearing that Julian Fellowes was inspired to write "Downton Abbey" by a book he was reading about the rash American heiresses who married into the British aristocracy at the end of the 19th century, I've been on the lookout for just such a book. I decided to settle for this novel, which seemed to be reasonably close. What a let down. This is the simpering story of one Cora Cash, nouveau riche heiress who is taken to Britain by her mother to land a properly titled husband. Cora is completely unlikable and not really sincere in her desire to escape. She's said to be intelligent, but that seems to be completely missing from the actions of her character (much weeping and ordering servants about and playing duets provide her main occupations). The only really good character is her scheming mother, and even she only manages to put up a pale imitation of stage mom. The duke that Cora does eventually land (who proposes to her about two seconds after they meet, providing an unfortunate excuse for another 70 pages of what passes for drama), is stiff and uninteresting, but mysteriously has a passion for Cora. It mystifies me how anyone could feel this way, but I'm not the author. And then there's Cora's black ladies' maid, which not only is completely out of period, but the entire story line around Bertha the maid (yes, her name is Bertha) is so extraneous and pointless, and did I mention not correct to period, one wonders where the editor was when this stroke of genius was devised. And why is Bertha written in a dialect that is more at home in a minstrel show than a novel, even one set in the 19th century. The "drama" seems pointless, but then there are the hints of romance novel that slip in. These could actually give a limpid plot some fire, but the author seems too afraid to really go all the way (if you will) with her sex scenes. Too bad, because taking this book into romance novel land is probably the only way it could have been saved. As it is, sitting on the border between bad novel and semi-bad romance soap, all this book does is severely disappoint. Note to self: never read novels by British poetry anthologizers ever again.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Hill

    The American Heiress, which could have been a prequel to a Downton Abbey type story line, left me flat. The biggest problem was I simply didn't care for the characters. There's just not enough there to relate to. The poor little rich girl, Cora Cash, who has everything - looks, charm, intelligence, and the richest daddy in New York - is totally self-absorbed and, even though she's the victim of a merciless social-climbing mother, she never becomes sympathetic. Her maid Bertha, who could be more The American Heiress, which could have been a prequel to a Downton Abbey type story line, left me flat. The biggest problem was I simply didn't care for the characters. There's just not enough there to relate to. The poor little rich girl, Cora Cash, who has everything - looks, charm, intelligence, and the richest daddy in New York - is totally self-absorbed and, even though she's the victim of a merciless social-climbing mother, she never becomes sympathetic. Her maid Bertha, who could be more relatable, is treated so summarily that she never comes fully to life. While obviously well researched, the story remains superficial and the plot fairly predictable. Both social sets, the ultra-rich New York high society and the British royalty, are deplorable in their rigid pecking order, and delight in gossipy innuendo at the least and sabotaging rivals through scandal or destroying marital trust out of revenge at the worst. Not to mention total absorption in frivolous displays of unimaginable wealth. Just not a likable bunch, in my mind. There's really nothing in the way of social commentary here, though few would envy the lives of the wealthy, privileged, and aristocratic as shown on these pages. Can one find happiness within the confines of a tightly proscribed life, or must one risk the condemnation of society to enjoy freedom and a life of one's choosing? Or would that life be desirable without the fortune? This book does not attempt to answer the questions.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I am finally all caught up! For February, I had to read 3 books for my book club. The last book, The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin did not disappoint. The book introduces Cora Cash, a wealthy heiress in America. Some may think she has it all, the only thing she doesn’t have is freedom. Cora is determined to get out the grasp of her mother. While on tour in England, she meets a handsome Duke, who proposes a week later. From the outside, it would seem that once again she has it all. However, h I am finally all caught up! For February, I had to read 3 books for my book club. The last book, The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin did not disappoint. The book introduces Cora Cash, a wealthy heiress in America. Some may think she has it all, the only thing she doesn’t have is freedom. Cora is determined to get out the grasp of her mother. While on tour in England, she meets a handsome Duke, who proposes a week later. From the outside, it would seem that once again she has it all. However, her husband is a man full of secrets. The English society is vicious. The only way to survive is to be stronger than she was before. I had to be very simplistic in my synopsis, for there are so many details and twists. I do not want to spoil it for anyone. I was very excited to read this book. Although, at first, I could not seem to get into the book. It is quite slow. However, around page 100, the pieces started falling into place and I could not put the book down. There are quite a few storylines that really slowed down the pace, especially in the beginning. Check out the rest of my review at: www.amandasbookreviewsite.wordpress.com

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I am a Downton Abbey lover and this book is very much in the same vein as that show. Cora annoyed me at times with how naive she was but she gets better and matures. I was worried it was going to end horribly, but it didn't. I would've liked a little more resolution between her and Teddy at the end there, at least for Teddy's sake, but I was glad about Cora ' s decision once Ivo spilled the beans. All in all it was entertaining. If you too enjoyed Downton Abbey, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I am a Downton Abbey lover and this book is very much in the same vein as that show. Cora annoyed me at times with how naive she was but she gets better and matures. I was worried it was going to end horribly, but it didn't. I would've liked a little more resolution between her and Teddy at the end there, at least for Teddy's sake, but I was glad about Cora ' s decision once Ivo spilled the beans. All in all it was entertaining. If you too enjoyed Downton Abbey, then this book is for you!

  27. 4 out of 5

    NyiNya

    Another entry in the "Buccaneers" genre, "The American Heiress" is something of a hybrid. Edith Wharton meets Harlequin Romance. Daisy Goodwin really, really tries to capture the flavor of "Custom of the Country" -- oh boy, does she try. You'll also find plot twists reminiscent of Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters. But not in a good way. The aptly named Cash family is rich beyond imagining. They buy houses, castles, paintings by Rubens, jewels, and 'the world's largest motor yacht' the way you a Another entry in the "Buccaneers" genre, "The American Heiress" is something of a hybrid. Edith Wharton meets Harlequin Romance. Daisy Goodwin really, really tries to capture the flavor of "Custom of the Country" -- oh boy, does she try. You'll also find plot twists reminiscent of Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters. But not in a good way. The aptly named Cash family is rich beyond imagining. They buy houses, castles, paintings by Rubens, jewels, and 'the world's largest motor yacht' the way you and I buy socks. Cora Cash, 18 years old and a Raving Beauty, is the title hunter du jour...but author Goodwin can't quite make her heroine sufficiently mercenary. She leaves that to Mommy Dearest, a cold-blooded nouveau riche, beautiful but--in true Grand Guignol style -- hideously scarred and forced to cover half her face with veils. Mrs. Cash is determined to find daughter the best Titled Husband money can buy. Papa Cash is a minor character whose only purpose is to sign checks and provide an arm for the ladies to clutch when walking in to dinner. The book gets interesting briefly when the Cash Family arrives in London and Cora gets some Buccaneer Boot Camp training from an American woman who makes her living teaching rich Philadelphia heiresses not to eat their peas with a knife or scratch where it itches. I'd like to have read more about the life of this enterprising woman and her unpolished gems...because once Cora gets her degree in Social Climbing and finds her impecunious but handsome duke, the story starts to tank. Cora and her future husband have a cute meet...she falls off of her horse, he rescues her. Shades of The Torn Bodice Romance! They get married, Cora makes some missteps in society...but there is no drama. Sure, some of the titled Brits are a tiny bit mean to Cora and take advantage of her American naivete, but heck, they're just jealous! Sure, Cora's husband keeps disappearing...either going fishing and missing his own wedding rehearsal or trotting off with the the British Heir Apparent on a trip to India and forgetting to tell poor Cora when he returns. And then, of course, there is A Major Complication. But not to worry, this is a love match and hubby's shenanigans keep getting explained away. Goodwin is obviously trying to cast a shroud of mystery around the duke, first making us suspect he is an evil fortune hunter, adulterer and a cad, and then quickly taking it back. She plays this card over and over and over again, imagining, no doubt, that she is whipsawing our emotions and keeping us on the edge of our seats. In fact, she is sending us off to see what's on television. One of the subplots involves Cora's mixed-race maid, a girl who is born into Southern poverty, goes North and achieves a measure of success as a lady's maid. This too might have been an intriguing little side road, but was not sufficiently explored. I'd have liked to read more about how she adapted to the comic opera pomposity of Downstairs Society, the rigid hierarchies and rules maintained by the servants of the upper classes, and how she fared as woman of color, personally and professionally. That would have been a better book too, I think. Cora's part of the story has been told many, many times before, and better. I'm giving the book a Fair rating, even though I didn't enjoy it very much. I think it will appeal to genre readers who don't want cynicism, irony, unhappy endings or originality to interfere with their enjoyment. The American Heiress is not a horrible book for the genre, it just doesn't go anywhere and takes too long on the journey. I kept wishing good old Undine Spragg would show up and kick some butt.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rissa

    Cora has lived the high and privileged life but soon she must learn what its like to work hard and turned her spoiled tendencies into mature ways.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lois

    With the exception of the character of Bertha this book was ok. More dramatic than Downton Abbey but along the same lines. It's full of standard romance tropes and somewhat based on details of the lives of Consuela and Alva Vanderbilt. Still it was an entertaining look at this era. The main problem with this narrative is the character of Bertha, a Black Lady's maid. The treatment of Bertha from beginning to end is horribly, classically, racist. It's like I'm reading Gone With The Wind or the auth With the exception of the character of Bertha this book was ok. More dramatic than Downton Abbey but along the same lines. It's full of standard romance tropes and somewhat based on details of the lives of Consuela and Alva Vanderbilt. Still it was an entertaining look at this era. The main problem with this narrative is the character of Bertha, a Black Lady's maid. The treatment of Bertha from beginning to end is horribly, classically, racist. It's like I'm reading Gone With The Wind or the author was playing Racist Bingo and decided to hit every square. Bertha's character is viewed and views herself through a racist lens. The effect is uncomfortable and jarring. She's not remotely believable for her time and place. Nor is she believably written as a Black Woman of any era. The scene with Cora bribing her is not historically plausible and unnecessary to the story. Why be offensive on purpose? It's highly doubtful a woman of Cora's class would have cash in their rooms much less the equivalent of about $1300.00 in today's value. Society was not heavily a cash culture at that time. Also rich people rarely carry cash, they settle their bills usually monthly via accountant during this period. They would shop and be billed later. There's no even discussion of money amongst this class, it's vulgar. Further a young unmarried woman I'm just not sure would have that much cash lying around. While $50 sounds small today, in 1900 the average US worker earned $13 a week. Most importantly Black folks were often sexually assaulted during chattel slavery, the civil war, reconsruction and Jim Crow eras; this was clearly coercion and not consensual. It seems the purpose of this scene is to establish Bertha as a commodity more than an individual immediately. This is 30 yrs after the civil war meaning Bertha's mother and family were most likely chattel slaves. This is terribly insensitive and Bertha likely would be well aware of her risk of sexual assault and that would be a fear here. That history is utterly ignored leaving this scene unbelievable and historically inaccurate. Just why🤷🏽‍♀️ The feelings Bertha has of disconnect towards her family are historically inaccurate. Black Folks went to extreme trouble to find and keep up with lost family. No way would a direct descendant of chattel slavery be this nonchalant about family. Not this close to the end of chattel slavery. Look up some of the letters and newspaper seeking adds placed by Black Folks. They are heartbreaking. I'm not saying Bertha needed to chose differently than she chose in the story just that her motivations as stated do not apply to a Black Woman of that era. Black Women are not simply white women with melanin, our experiences and therefore our motivations differentiate us. It's clear this author did research into the white people in this novel. The Black character also required research. Instead the author just literally defines the character by her own internal racism and antiblackness.😬 This quote is Bertha speaking to a potential love interest: 'When he drew back she said, ‘Don’t you mind?’ ‘Mind what?’ he whispered. ‘My skin. Don’t you mind kissing a coloured girl?’ This is simply not how Black folks feel about themselves and their skin. We tend to find ourselves and those that look like us attractive. Internalized antiblackness should be explored by Black Authors so it can be handled realistically, responsibly and respectfully. The author repeatedly refers to Bertha as not wanting to get dark, be Black, etc. It's utterly unbelievable and offensive. This is how the author perceives Black folks. As this is the creator of Victoria it actually explains a lot about the horrid Christmas Episode which tried to pretend the horrors of colonization and the scramble for Africa was to protect Black folks. No bitch but you tried it didn't you. Black folks have known since 1619 that white people find us attractive. Bertha's own father is white so it seems disingenuous that she would be surprised white men aren't put off by her skin color. The only people who are surprised by that are white supremacists. It's clear the author doesn't find Black skin attractive and doesn't have any close Black friends. This is just horribly racist and not accurate in any time, period or place. Bertha's mom would've talked to her about how to keep herself safe in 'service' in a white world and from white men. Both employers and coworkers. Because white men will most definitely find her attractive and so will some women. This is well documented and extremely painful history. 'Bertha had never learnt to swim.' Every single Black stereotype works it's way into this narrative in relation to the singular POC in the entire novel. It's tiring as fuck. Black people knew how to swim. In fact it's our ancestors who taught Englishmen to swim, check out Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufman for specifics. In the US, because of racism, Black folks were barred from swimming in pools. This caused a generation of Northern Black folks to not learn how to swim because their parents did not have access to a body of water to teach them. Even post segregation pools were segregated. This predates that generation by decades and Bertha was from the South. Bertha would've learned to swim in a lake just like Cora did. There's no reason to include a white supremacist myth and ridiculous stereotype in this novel. It doesn't even fit in this instance. It's like this author is playing racist Pokemon Go and has to be sure to catch every single stereotype and cram it into her racist excuse for a book. Also often Bertha's pov chapters would be 99% or more about Cora. As if Bertha's own thoughts were also of Cora's happiness over her own life. Cora barely mentions Bertha in her pov section. Bertha is not a fully developed or realized character. This quote is Bertha deciding whether to move on and live the dream she has been planning for or stay in service to a woman she has admitted is abusive to her. 'She could tell Cora’s mood from the set of her shoulders, she knew what she was going to say by the curve of her lips. It did not much matter to her that Cora did not observe her in return. Cora was her territory; her home was where Cora was.' This is by far the most infuriating and unrealistic bullshit in this book. Bertha is a classic mammy. I know this is uncomfortable but Black folks in service didn't give a shit about these white folks for the most part. She is the direct child of enslaved peoples. She would not be looking to sacrifice further for white people. The Help is fiction written by a racist white lady. In real life Black folks are often aware of and angry about inequalities. That didn't start with the civil rights movement. That started in 1619. These type of Black Women (mammy's) don't exist in history as told from a Black Women's perspective. This is like the myth of the 'happy singing slave' no such thing existed except for in the mind of white supremacists. Huge fucking yikes. The really fucked up part is you know this author is patting herself on the back for diversity and inclusion when in reality racism is neither diverse nor inclusive. This also brings to bear the glaring need for Black book editors. Whew. I am glad I did not pay for this horrid bullshit.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Natasa

    This book was fine, but it wasn't anything special. The characters and relationships all felt flat and undeveloped, and the plot was predictable.

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