My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin

I wanted to like this book. Really. Considering I had ordered it from halfway around the world, I wanted to enjoy it. I saw that Downton Abbey also has a American heiress called Cora; I wanted to enjoy this. But all throughout this book I was wondering, is this it? Where is the suspense, the moment of crisis? Was I missing it? Was it too subtly written? Have I read too many books like this one? This book brought back memories of the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen in the way dresses are lavishly described, the writing is similar and the rich American girl setting. I liked it marginally better than the Luxe series but I don’t think I’ll be going back for more any time soon – it’s confusing whether this is a long book for young adult readers or a light read for older readers.

The plot is straightforward – Cora Cash, rich American heiress has anything money can buy (including gold hummingbirds and digging for gem treasures – and that’s just at parties). However, her mother wants her to be titled. After Cora is caught in a compromising clinch with Teddy (rich, but not titled) and Mrs Cash is disfigured when her electricity dress catches fire, Cora goes to England to find a suitably titled husband in need of her money. After falling off her horse, she is discovered by Ivo, the new Lord of Wareham. She falls in love with him and they get married very early on in the book. The intrigue involves a portrait, a friend who is not all she seems, an increasingly distant husband and a snooty mother-in-law. It’s kind of predictable and the ending is quite rushed, with feelings changing each paragraph. I still wonder if Cora got what she wanted – or even knew what she wanted, after pressures from family and friends.

Some characters were drawn better than others – the Duke remained an enigma to me, dipping in and out of the action frequently. Cora’s mother was determined while Cora was confused for me. Was the naming of the rich heiress – ‘Cash’ deliberate? I think it was a pun this book didn’t need to have. The historical setting is dealt with lightly, we get the gist of the time but none of the politics or defining events.

Yes, it was predictable but perhaps this is a new fashion – historical chick lit. Some have likened this book to those written by Jane Austen or Edith Wharton but I believe that the prose is too simple for that.

Note that this book also goes by the title The American Heiress.

Read this if: you loved the Luxe series or like historical chick-lit.

6.5 out of 10.

2 thoughts on “My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin

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  1. I was offered this one, but in the end never responded. I don’t think that I am regretting that now given what I have seen about it.

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