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The Husband Hunters: Social Climbing in London and New York
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The Husband Hunters: Social Climbing in London and New York

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  1,003 ratings  ·  166 reviews
Towards the end of the nineteenth century and for the first few years of the twentieth, a strange invasion took place in Britain. The citadel of power, privilege and breeding in which the titled, land-owning governing class had barricaded itself for so long was breached. The incomers were a group of young women who, fifty years earlier, would have been looked on as the ali ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 1st 2017 by W&N
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3.52  · 
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 ·  1,003 ratings  ·  166 reviews

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Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Husband Hunters, written by Anne de Courcy is a fascinating look how American and British culture shaped The Gilded Age (1870-1910) and how the young daughters from prestigious wealthy American families married into the elite English aristocratic class. These ambitious young brides included Jennie Jerome (1854-1921) who married Lord Randolph Churchill mother of Sir Winston Churchill (1875-1965). The stunning beauty Adele Beach Grant who was the portrait for “The Lady in White” was also a fri ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Economist Thorstein Veblen coined the phrase "conspicuous consumption" and this book illustrates it perfectly. Wealthy high society in NYC was a very complicated system of genealogy, manners, money, and the right connections. And the more money spent on achieving and "one upping" each other, the better. While the wealthy husbands were involved in the business of making more money, the wives were the arbiters of what was socially acceptable and fought to be considered a part of Mrs. Astor's "400 ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 ever so interesting stars

They say money can't buy you happiness but in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it could buy you a husband. "Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping." (Bo Derek) ...and shopping these girls and their mothers did. They were shopping for an entrance into high society and were willing with their bags filled with money to climb that social ladder no matter what it took. This was the world of The Husband Hunters: Social Climbing in Lon
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Netgalley #53

Many thanks go to Anne de Courcy, W & N, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Edith Wharton's classic The Buccaneers comes to life in this page-turner. So many young ladies of the great monied classic in America sought the hand and titles of the royalty in Europe, or should I say their mothers did for their daughters. No price was too large, no trip too far, no peerage too high for these esteemed, and sometimes somewhat tacky women.
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review can also be found here!

Thanks to Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for an ARC!

DNF at 13%

Another one that just really put me to sleep. It’s not a good sign when the introduction — which tells me who the subjects are — is too long and drawn out and puts me to sleep. I don’t even remember who the heiresses are, honestly. Too many names said and never mentioned again.

I could tell this was meticulously researched, but it was very repetitive and I couldn’t break into the denseness of this te
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was ok

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the stately homes of England have always been in dire need of an injection of capital. Equally, that American money looks to the English aristocracy for an injection of class. At the turn of the last century, this mutual requirement reached its apotheosis in the Gilded Age. Superrich American matrons raked the ranks of English noblemen in search of the most desirable titles for their daughters (nothing less than an earl would do). This was not
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: social-history
More than a bit disappointed with this book. The subject matter sounded perfect for me, and I've enjoyed de Courcy's works in the past.
I marvel at how sometimes writers can turn the most interesting subjects into dull books.
So many clichés. Basically it seemed to boil down to 'American girls had money, were lively, confident, educated and outspoken. Impoverished English gentlemen found them far more attractive than English girls who were undereducated, quiet and retiring and lived their lives in
Oct 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: I only made it through the first two chapters. I'm as down for a gossipy romp through the lives of rich Americans marrying cash-poor British aristocrats as the next person, but honestly, de Courcy spewed so many broad generalizations about American women's history that I had to put it down. I get it: she's a journalist, not a historian, but there are PLENTY of accounts of the history of US women that she could have read in order to properly contextualize her subjects. None of th ...more
Jan 10, 2019 added it
Another clunker I was forced to read for book club.
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
Fascinating history of rich American women who sought and found husbands among European royals. The money the wives brought to the marriages was what helped these men whose fortunes had declined and who needed massive amounts of cash to keep their estates afloat. The titles made these women whose fortunes were new access to the high society of New York previously denied them.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the book was thorough & interesting. I expected more of a narrative of the matchmaking & follow up to the lives lived after meeting their chosen royal match. However, the book focused more on the social hierarchies and manipulation of social status both in NY during the Gilded Age and abroad. The author did a great job of character developing for each family, their motivations, wealth, limitations in traditional society and the fallout that came from their matchmaking. Sometime ...more
Carolyn Harris
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Anne de Courcy's social histories are always fun to read - I have previously read 1939: The Last Season, Debs at War and The Fishing Fleet - and The Husband Hunters is equally packed with fascinating details about elite society in late 19th and early 20th century Britain and the United States. The phenomenon of American heiresses marrying British and European nobleman has been covered in other books - including "To Marry an English Lord" - but de Courcy's book is notable for focusing as closely ...more
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[See this and other reviews at my website,]

Lately, I’ve had so many books come into my life at just the right time. I had just finished Master of His Fate by Barbara Taylor Bradford, and towards the end of the book, there was a reference to the phrase “Buccaneers.” While I immediately thought of pirates, The phrase stems from the Edith Wharton novel The Buccaneers, which refers to a group of wealthy American women who were groomed for marriage to the privileged uppe
I'd been watching the Million Dollar Princesses series on the Smithsonian channel and wanted to go further in-depth. I got that with this book, although it was a mixed bag.

The good news is that de Courcy starts off with an interesting premise--that it was less about ambitious daughters trading cash for class, and more about their mothers seeking social mobility. I found the discussion of early New York being run (socially) by the matriarchs to be pretty interesting. The drawback to this is that
Literary Soirée
THE HUSBAND HUNTERS tells the real story of the Cora Crawleys of Downton Abbey, the American heiresses who traversed the Atlantic with their riches for marriage with British blood bloods. Author Anne de Courcy has penned an addictive read, as we follow this coterie of American debs England-ward. Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome, was considered the first “Dollar Princess” after she left America and married Randolph Churchill in 1874. The heiress exodus continued to 1905, bringing dozens ...more
Jadis LeFeu
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very interesting (and by turns horrifying) overview of the American heiresses that married into the European aristocracy, the New York social scene from which most of them came, and the effects of their marriages on both sides of the Atlantic. Chapters focus on individual girls--Tennie Claflin and her sister Victoria were particularly delightful, as suffragettes and pioneers of womens' rights. Poor Consuelo Vanderbilt was one of the most tragic.
Toni Skaff
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Who knew the enormity of the wealth during the Guilded Age? I really did not. I was awestruck at the Millions of dollars these women inherited, the pounds of diamonds and pearls that they wore and the extravagance of the social life. Very illuminating of the social life during this time. what a great way to learn about history. Loved listening to this on audible. Loved the narrator.
Melissa Dee
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this book entirely fascinating. I’ve read a lot of Regency historicals, and it was illuminating to read a factual account of this period, along with the true-life marriages of the time. Particularly of interest was the contrasting of American and English expectations for women and for marriage. Dress, personal hygiene, valuation of money… Nothing is too small for De Courcey’s attention.
Mary Jo
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting information and a fascinating portrait of the Gilded Age with its excessive spending. I sometimes had a hard time keeping names sorted out but it was worth the effort.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have nothing against some fluff, but it should be good, entertaining fluff. This was just slightly dull, disjointed fluff.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting book, but it's weirdly book-ended by two thesis statement chapters that I don't think the stories within the center neccessarily support. I think the issue lies with the fact that these first and last chapters are heavily based on inferring the feelings and motivations of the people within the chapters, but the individual stories of the families are done in a very factual manner without putting a lot of motivation into the people's actions. And it seems like there were lot ...more
Jul 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The Husband Hunters is ostensibly about those heiresses who popped over the pond for a quick season and stayed forever. It's well-written, atmospheric, but it is not about these heiresses. It is about the times they lived in. There are long paragraphs about only Newport and New York society, mostly about people with no connection across the Atlantic. Astors are not discussed in the UK, only the New York ones and about their societal reign. It's done very well, but it is not what was bleeping pro ...more
Amy Sprenger
Was so looking forward to this book after hearing about it on NPR and in The NY Times. But. The hype wasn’t justified. I wanted more “Downton Abbey” Cora and got dry historical stories that were somewhat repetitive. It was well researched but I fell asleep reading it several times.
I really liked this book.
Siobhan Johnson
I loved this! A really fascinating and fun look at an area of history I don't know much about. I meant this to last the rest of February, and instead I read it in 9 days. So good!
I enjoyed this for a while, but I was ready for it to end as it did get a little "samey" after a bit. I think readers' enjoyment would be based on how interesting they find the subject matter.
Joan Kerr
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
"At $2 million to build, with another $9 million spent on its furnishings…it was inspired by the Sun King’s Grand Trianon at Versailles. Two sweeps of drive rose towards its portico, held by four Doric columns the height of the entire two-storey house; its fifty rooms needed a staff of thirty-six servants. The hall and staircase were built of yellow marble, the dining room of red; the walls of the Gold Room were covered in gold leaf applied by hand." (131)

The Marble House, completed in 1892 as t
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the late 1800s to the early 1900s, American heiresses married into the English nobility. These women became known as the “Dollar Princesses.” The women received a title while their husbands received a large dowry. In this nonfiction book, The Husband Hunters sheds light on the Dollar Princesses. It discusses how these women were trained since childhood on how to catch the eye of an English lord. This is the story of these women who were forced to leave their family and homeland in order to be ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not all of history is told by battles and wars. A lot of history has to do with customs, beliefs, and choices of people, particularly wealthy people. In the late 19th century there were plenty of wealthy people. There was new wealth and there was old wealth, and the holders of old wealth were reluctant to allow those newly wealthy folks into their inner circles of American society. As a remedy, rich American families began to look to British and European nobility as potential husbands for their ...more
Ann Olszewski
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite interesting look at the milieu of the Gilded Age, when it was the ultimate social coup for the nouveau riche to marry off a daughter to the scion of an old, and often genteelly poor, aristocratic family. While de Courcy does briefly profile several of the girls who made European marriages, this book is more a biography of a very particular era in American social history.

What struck me is how different these young ladies were from the children of the American super-rich today, who exult in
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Anne de Courcy is a well-known writer, journalist and book reviewer. In the 1970s she was Woman’s Editor on the London Evening News until its demise in 1980, when she joined the Evening Standard as a columnist and feature-writer. In 1982 she joined the Daily Mail as a feature writer, with a special interest in historical subjects, leaving in 2003 to concentrate on books, on which she has talked wi ...more