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My Last Duchess

3.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  25,186 Ratings  ·  3,586 Reviews
Cora Cash, possibly the wealthiest heiress in 1890s America, has been raised to believe that money will open every door to her. But when her mother whisks Cora to England to secure her an aristocratic match, Cora is dismayed by the welcome she at first receives. The great English houses in which she is entertained are frosty and forbidding, dogged by intrigue above stairs, ...more
Paperback, 502 pages
Published January 28th 2011 by Headline Review (first published 2010)
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Jennifer There are no sex scenes. Sex is never described. It is implied that people sleep together. There are several places where characters are described…moreThere are no sex scenes. Sex is never described. It is implied that people sleep together. There are several places where characters are described kissing. When the main character is rather young and innocent she does ask her maid to show her how to kiss. This is probably the most shocking (& why the author added it questionable) scene in the book-but there really is nothing else of a graphic nature in the rest of the book. This book is a saga of a family over a lifetime & those in their service, friends and family. Their are acts of adultery and other sins that happen over their lifetime but they are all handled without explicitness. (less)
Jennifer I have not read "The Elegance of The Hedgehog"- so I cannot comment on it, although I have heard good things about it. I did enjoy the book very much…moreI have not read "The Elegance of The Hedgehog"- so I cannot comment on it, although I have heard good things about it. I did enjoy the book very much but I think it probably depends on the type of books that your group enjoys reading.(less)
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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 fr

Aug 11, 2010 Sian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
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 lea
Apr 03, 2014 Sam rated it did not like it
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 ev
Jennifer Louden
Aug 15, 2012 Jennifer Louden rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 18, 2013 Pat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jun 11, 2012 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Possibly the soapiest dish of a book I've ever read. If you're feeling Downton Abbey withdrawls this is the book for you :)
Mar 21, 2012 Ariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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 ...more
Yellow Rose
Aug 21, 2012 Yellow Rose rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Mar 10, 2013 Evelyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 03, 2011 Angt27 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-historic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 ...more
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
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!
Julia Reed
Jun 07, 2011 Julia Reed rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2012 NyiNya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
This was cute. I particularly enjoyed the little interview with the author at the end of the audio version. I have the paperback too and I wish I had realized there was an interview with the author at the end of the book as well as reading group questions. I will have to look to the back of the book from now on. I think reading the section at the back would have enhanced my reading pleasure.

This book does remind me of Downton Abbey, also Edith Warton and Jane Austin a little. Loved reading the s
Jul 15, 2014 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-copy, 2011, niab
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 ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
This might win for best vacation fluff of the summer, and I mean that in the awesomest way. I've seen Anna Godbersen's YA Luxe series described as Edith Wharton meets Gossip Girl, and I would say that this novel is a grown-up version of the Luxe books. Or, how about this: ever had a gin fizz? This is the bookequivalentof that light, frothy, fruity, delicious cocktail.

I had to post a Teaser earlier today because I was literally delighted by this story from the first handful of pages, and it hones
MaryannC.Book Fiend
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 ...more
B the BookAddict
Apr 02, 2014 B the BookAddict marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nada, no-one!
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
3.5 stars

"The lace alone on the numerous nightgowns, peignoirs, wrappers, bed jackets, and petticoats was probably worth more than diamonds, as all of it was handmade, some of it worn by the French queen who had had her head cut off."

The American Heiress is Cora Cash, pampered daughter of the oh-so-filthy-rich Cashes. Cora secretly dreams of a romance with Teddy Van Der Leyden of the Van Der Leydens (old money you know), but that's not to be as her parents whisk her off to England and the hunt
I was a bit unsure about this book to be honest... I will admit (somewhat embarrassingly) that I picked this book up because of the beautiful and intricate cover (that chandelier!), and after perusing the back briefly at my local Barnes & Noble, I broke down and bought it. Unfortunately, I wish I hadn't. It is a very interesting story that feels like it could go somewhere, it has a plot line with SO many possibilities. In the end however, the plot line is lost- sacrificed to some mess of a c ...more
Aug 30, 2015 Gillian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
A really enjoyable romp attempting to emulate Edith Wharton's the Buccaneers or even Downton Abbey in its theme of American heiresses struggling to be part of the English aristocracy even though it's what they have fought tooth and nail to achieve.

As much as I enjoyed it, there are obvious flaws in the narrative with many strands started but never fully explored and I can't help but find the ending contrite while still leaving so many strands untied.

Oh, and the achnowledgements at the end parti
Sep 05, 2011 RNOCEAN rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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, New York Times bestselling author of I Don’t Know How She Does It and I Think I Love You

Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to see
Apr 23, 2011 Freida rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cora Cash is a sheltered, wealthy, American heiress and her mother is determined to marry her off to someone, anyone in Europe with a title. Cora sees marriage as her means of escape. The Duke of Wareham seemed to be the perfect answer. The story is one that is told over and over. The historical time period is researched and brilliantly brought to life in the story. The many secrets that are teased out from all the characters come together in one final climax that will make any romance reader si ...more
Tara Chevrestt
The front of my ARC has a quote from an author. It says, "A wonderful, guilty pleasure of a read." And that's exactly what it was for me... A guilty pleasure. It's about the most incredibly rich and snotty people... people I would never associate with in real life, yet I found myself entranced by their ways, their obsession with fashion, name dropping, gossip, affairs, jewels, status, protocol.. Wow.

Cora Cash is an American heiress whose controlling, manipulative mother will not rest until her d
Steph Ruswick
Aug 14, 2013 Steph Ruswick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book, I really did. But in the end, I found it boring and dull with no likeable characters. I suppose the book was written to be more accurate with flawed characters and such, but that doesn't always make for a good and entertaining book.

Cora Cash is a spoiled rich girl with a cold and ambitious mother who takes Cora to England to get her a title. She's not terribly interesting and the one thing that sets her apart is her American spirit. However, you never actually see tha
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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 an ...more
More about Daisy Goodwin...

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“... anyone can acquire wealth, the real art is giving it away.” 17 likes
“In the Blue Room, Cora Cash was trying to concentrate on her book. Cora found most novels hard to sympathise with -- all those plain governesses -- but this one had much to recommend it. The heroine was 'handsome, clever, and rich', rather like Cora herself. Cora knew she was handsome -- wasn't she always referred to in the papers as 'the divine Miss Cash'? She was clever -- she could speak three languages and could handle calculus. And as to rich, well, she was undoubtedly that. Emma Woodhouse was not rich in the way that she, Cora Cash, was rich. Emma Woodhouse did not lie on a lit à la polonaise once owned by Madame du Barry in a room which was, but for the lingering smell of paint, an exact replica of Marie Antoinette's bedchamber at le petit Trianon. Emma Woodhouse went to dances at the Assembly Rooms, not fancy dress spectaculars in specially built ballrooms. But Emma Woodhouse was motherless which meant, thought Cora, that she was handsome, clever, rich and free.” 8 likes
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