THE AMERICAN HEIRESSS

Daisy Goodwin

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 Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals.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,

more …

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 Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals.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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  • St. Martin's Griffin
  • Paperback
  • March 2012
  • 496 Pages
  • 9780312658663

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About Daisy Goodwin

Daisy Goodwin, a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University’s film school after earning a degree in history at Cambridge University, is a leading television producer in the U.K. Her poetry anthologies, including 101 Poems That Could Save Your Life, have introduced many new readers to the pleasures of poetry, and she was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. She and her husband, an ABC TV executive, have two daughters and live in London. The American Heiress is her first novel.

Praise

“Ms. Goodwin…writes deliciously.“Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“A propulsive story of love, manners, culture clash, and store-bought class from a time long past that proves altogether fresh. “Publishers Weekly

“Top-notch writing….will please fans of historical romance, including book club members. “Library Journal (starred review)

“[An] exceptionally thoughtful and stunning historical novel that will leave you reeling and astonished…and give you the urge to re-read it the instant the last page is turned. “BookReporter.com

Discussion Questions

What is your initial impression of Cora Cash?

How does she develop as a person in the course

of the novel?

In America, Cora is clearly at the top of society,

while Bertha is very near the bottom. In what ways

do their circumstances change when they move

to England?

What role do the mothers in the story—Mrs. Cash,

Mrs. Van Der Leyden, and the Double Duchess—

play in the central characters’ lives?

What role do the mothers in the story—Mrs. Cash,

Mrs. Van Der Leyden, and the Double Duchess—

play in the central characters’ lives?

What is your opinion of Teddy and the Duke?

What about Charlotte?

What do you think about Cora’s decision at the

end of the book? Would you have made the same

choice? (The author has said she was of two minds

up until the last chapter.)

What are the differences between the Old World

and the New in the novel? Do both worlds seem

remote in the twenty-first century, or do you see

parallels to contemporary society

Why do modern readers enjoy reading novels

about the past? Take a moment to discuss your

experiences as a reader of historical fiction, in

general, and of The American Heiress in particular.

When she was chair of the Orange Prize for

Fiction in 2010, Daisy Goodwin wrote a

controversial essay lamenting the “unrelenting

grimness” of so many of the novels and pointing

out that “generally great fiction contains light

and shade”—not only misery but joy and humor.

What do you think about Daisy’s argument that

“it is time for publishers to stop treating literary

fiction as the novelistic equivalent of cod-liver oil:

if it’s nasty it must be good for you”?

Kirkus Reviews called The American Heiress a

“shrewd, spirited historical romance with flavors

of Edith Wharton, Daphne du Maurier, and

Jane Austen.” Other critics have also seen echoes

of Henry James. If you have read any of these

earlier novelists, what parallels and differences

do you see in Daisy’s work?