"A library doesn't need windows. A library is a window." – Stewart Brand

Aug 23, 2011

Read Something! _The American Heiress_ (Daisy Goodwin)

The American Heiress
Historical Fiction, Romance


Cora Cash is the wealthiest of Gilded Age New York's eligible young ladies, and her mother is determined to secure for Cora through marriage the one thing money can't buy: an aristocratic title. True to expectations, Cora makes an enviable match to an English duke. But the straightforward American heiress soon finds that English society is rife with unspoken social codes, secret alliances, and duplicitous betrayals. Set adrift in an unexpectedly unwelcoming new life, Cora must mature from a spoiled rich girl to a woman capable of making her own way in society.

Appeal Characteristics
  • Characterization: multiple strong female characters
  • Characterization/Frame: dark, brooding, mysterious love interest
  • Frame: sex mentioned but not really shown
  • Frame: lots of historical detail
  • Frame: some parts are from the points of view of servants instead of the socially elite main characters
  • Frame: some parts are briefly from the point of view of minor characters who we never see again
  • Frame: excellent descriptions make it easy to visualize characters and setting
  • Plot/Frame: love triangles
  • Plot/Frame: lots of politicking/characters trying to one-up each other for social standing
  • Plot/Frame: the state of affairs is pretty clear to the reader early on; we watch the main character figure it out
  • Plot: the "right" people are together at the end; a happy ending
  • Plot/Characterization: book is more focused on plot than on developing finely drawn characters
  • Pacing: midlength chapters broken into somewhat shorter sections
  •  The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton? - Wharton is suggested as a readalike on the jacket copy. Age is much more serious, a social novel rather than romantic fluff, but both books center on a love story, contain lots of historical detail from the same time period, and address the differences between European and American Gilded Age societies by throwing a person primarily from one society into the other
  • Regency romances - This book is only slightly less fluffy than a romance, and is perhaps slightly more about Cora herself than about her romantic relationships... but barely. Julia Quinn (the only romance author I read) is perhaps not a great match except that both she and this book have strong women and lots of period detail; American Heiress seems a little less unabashedly light-hearted than Quinn.
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles? - I haven't read it but it just came across my desk as a new book and it could be a match. It's a historical novel (albeit set in the 1930s) featuring a plucky girl who needs to find her own way in a wealthy society with which she is unfamiliar, as well as navigating a romance (and possibly, like Cora, being torn between two men).