American Heiress

Do you ever wonder what happened to the Prince and Sleeping Beauty after “they live happily ever after”?  Daisy Miller’s American Heiress marries her heroine to the Duke of Wareham in the first 100 pages; the rest of the book is devoted to what happens next. Mix in a stout Prince of Wales, some upstairs/downstairs shenanigans and the glamour of the 1890s Gilded Age, and the story becomes worthy of Masterpiece Theater.

Cora Cash, heiress to her father’s Newport, Rhode Island fortune, sets sail for England with her mother to capture the castle; her mother is determined to marry her into a lordly title.  Within the first month, Cora obliges by conveniently falling off her horse on a hunt and is rescued by the earnest Duke of Wareham, who has the title and the looks, but no money.

They marry, and should live happily ever after – except for all the obstacles Miller throws in: a replication of the Charles/Camilla/Diana British intrigue; the American artist who loves Cora; the flirty British mother-in-law; the rich American mother breaking into society.  The story roughly follows the same formula as a Catherine Coulter swashbuckling British romance, but Miller adds her own brand of spice with characters that follow the code of an Edith Wharton novel – so embroiled in correctness that the obvious sometimes eludes them.  It’s fun to watch.

A fast easy read, The American Heiress is a  nice respite from all those books that make you think.