The Official History Chicks Podcast Book Club discussion

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March - Book Discussions > Did the Gilded Age Heiresses feel that they had no other option of marrying well other than placing themselves at the mercy of the Prince of Wales, "Bertie"?

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message 1: by Amber (new)

Amber (mommytucker) | 157 comments Mod
To Marry an English Lord Or How Anglomania Really Got Started by Gail MacColl

Discussion Question #1:

Did the Gilded Age Heiresses feel that they had no other option of marrying well other than placing themselves at the mercy of the Prince of Wales, "Bertie"?

Do you think that they would have chosen that path if it had not been for their persuasive mothers or duty to society?


Virginia, Second of Her Name, Mother of Bunnies (virginia_motherofbunnies) | 1 comments Well, it all depends on what your idea of "marrying well" means. Yes, financial security and social status were very important. However, you still have to wake up every morning next to "Lord Husband So and So."


message 3: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 9 comments I feel a bit torn on this. I absolutely think the pushy mothers played a role. Being rejected by the so-Knickerbockers, this was what raised them to a whole other social stratosphere. They didn’t have to put their dresses away until next season, their new money didn’t matter. The daughters were the tool to get there.

That being said, I don’t feel they were completely averse to it either. I was listening to the Ada Lovelace episode this morning and something Susan and Beckett said resonated. When the subject of Ada’s marriage was spoken about, they said that while it was an arranged marriage, Ada was interested in him as well. She had been raised to eventually become a wife and mother. I think these girls knew this too. They knew what their eventual fate would been.

I think the true shock came when they crossed the pond, to the austere manor houses and estates falling down around them.


message 4: by Amber (new)

Amber (mommytucker) | 157 comments Mod
Virginia wrote: "Well, it all depends on what your idea of "marrying well" means. Yes, financial security and social status were very important. However, you still have to wake up every morning next to "Lord Husban..."

You are right, Virginia. Today's ideal of 'marrying well' is much different than it was viewed during the Victorian Era. I think a lot of these women married mainly for status and wealth but on the flip side, that was what they were brought up to do and the idea of marrying for love was more of a foreign idea at the time.


message 5: by Amber (new)

Amber (mommytucker) | 157 comments Mod
Melissa wrote: "I feel a bit torn on this. I absolutely think the pushy mothers played a role. Being rejected by the so-Knickerbockers, this was what raised them to a whole other social stratosphere. They didn’t h..."

I agree with you Melissa. I like how you incorporated another episode to have a better understanding. On the Facebook lounge, Alva and Consuelo's relationship was brought up on how even though Alva pushed her daughter to marry across the pond, she stood by her to get a divorce and realized that women had rights too other than marrying and having children.


message 6: by Holley Jay (new)

Holley Jay C | 4 comments I find it so hard to guess at this, because as has been said, they were brought up to know they would have to marry and “marry well”. Also, I’m sure as a young American girl who had received rejection from her peers (or peers mothers), it would be easy to get swept away in the world of dukes and earls, and be called “Lady...”.

I think of it like when us modern Americans choose a home that is “good enough”. It may have the right location, number of bedrooms, and good backyard, but it has this awful layout (or some other unchangeable feature). You know you need to live in this area, that it is your “duty” to have a home, so you find one that you can “make do”.

These girls were living up to their “duty”, so they did their best to make do and find something “good enough”.

(I hope that analogy makes sense!)

As women of the 21st century most of us were raised being told we could do or be anything we wanted, so o think it’s hard for us to fathom the single mindedness for women’s futures back then. I’m sure each of the women had passions and pursuits she would have loved to explored, but instead she “did her duty”.


message 7: by Lori (new)

Lori (pacholkadot) | 3 comments Great question! It’s tough to say, really. I’m sure some, if truly given the choice, might have chosen to marry for love instead of duty, but sadly that wasn’t an option in their class and time period. As has been said by others in our group, most were raised being told that this is what they would grow up to do: marry well, run a household, have children, etc. That being said, had it not been for the pushy mothers, I don’t think we’d see the number of American heiresses marrying into British nobility that we do. The mothers were the backbone of the operation. To be completely honest though, the British System seemed more appealing to me than the American System (ie new vs old money snobbery)


message 8: by Amber (new)

Amber (mommytucker) | 157 comments Mod
Holley wrote: "I find it so hard to guess at this, because as has been said, they were brought up to know they would have to marry and “marry well”. Also, I’m sure as a young American girl who had received reject..."

Holley,

Great points made! You are very right, it is difficult for us to gain a complete understanding of why they made specific decisions because we do live in a different time and have had at least one or two generations of being taught that as women we can do anything we set our minds to and should marry for love. I felt this book gave an excellent insight of the circumstances surrounding these brave ladies.


message 9: by Amber (new)

Amber (mommytucker) | 157 comments Mod
Lori wrote: "Great question! It’s tough to say, really. I’m sure some, if truly given the choice, might have chosen to marry for love instead of duty, but sadly that wasn’t an option in their class and time per..."

Lori,

I did find it interesting the differences in the American Society and British Society. What I found most amusing was the view of these women that British Society had. They were actually relieved to have them in their country to take some of the pressure of entertaining the prince. I definitely laughed out loud when I read that!


message 10: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer C | 5 comments Amber wrote: "To Marry an English Lord Or How Anglomania Really Got Started by Gail MacColl

Discussion Question #1:

Did the Gilded Age Heiresses feel that they had no other option of marrying well other t..."


I too am torn on this, I think that they needed to feel like they were going to be "taking care of" in a sense just because of the time. They had money but no legal rights. I think be-friending and utilizing "Bertie" worked for them because it provided security.

I also think their mothers were helping to push the heiresses into "good marriages". There was also the cache of marrying royalty, the lords. I'm sure that the young women were also interested in the marrying game as well.


message 11: by Amber (new)

Amber (mommytucker) | 157 comments Mod
Jennifer wrote: "Amber wrote: "To Marry an English Lord Or How Anglomania Really Got Started by Gail MacColl

Discussion Question #1:

Did the Gilded Age Heiresses feel that they had no other option of marryin..."


Jennifer,

You made many good points. Security was provided by Bertie's friendship that made getting into the right social classes possible.


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