Cora Cash is an aptly named wealthy American girl in 1893 Rhode Island – the Paris Hilton of the Victorian era. The only daughter of perhaps the wealthiest family in America, Cora was subject to everything her mother wanted for her, above all acquiring a noble title.
On the verge of leaving for Europe in search of an aristocrat to marry, Cora is desperate to break free from her mother’s watchful eye and gain the independence she’s never had. She proposes to elope with her best friend Teddy, who refuses her offer – afraid he’ll be seen as a gold-digger and more afraid to give up his plans to go to Europe to be an artist.
Early in the book, Cora sets sail to Europe where she serendipitously stumbles into the care of a Duke whose estate is in great need of repair. The match is perfect: he has a title and she has money. Moreover, it seems they fall in love instantly.
From there, the book takes many twists and turns, from Cora’s servant falling in love (a move that could get her fired) to Teddy returning to proclaim his love.
While “American Heiress” has all of the elements of a page-turning chicklit novel, it lacks that some intriguing characteristic to make it great. Filled with romance, glitz, interfering mothers, and unrequited love, Cora’s story seems like a sure seller. And yet, I felt bored.
Daisy Goodwin’s writing has been compared to Jane Austin, a fitting comparison since they both set their scenes in the 1800s. But for me, the similarity stops there. Jane Austin’s writing is rich and beautiful, filled with so many surprising turns it’s hard to keep up. The ending of “American Heiress” seemed obvious to me from halfway through the book.
That said, “American Heiress” is a charming read if you’re looking for a period-piece by a new author. Cora displays a fierce independence and dedication to true love any modern woman can identify with. Her sweet demeanor matches perfectly with the butterscotch notes from the barrel-aged flavor of Toasted Head 2008 Chardonnay. The aging of the wine matches Cora’s story – the barrels are just 55% American, the rest a mix from Europe. Though it’s a California wine, its story mixes in the Old World just as Cora leaves America to find her true title in the wealth, glitz, and glamour of the late 1800s.
Buy your copy of American Heiress in the new Chick Lit & Wine Store (powered by Amazon) and 20% of the proceeds will benefit the National MS Society.