MY LAST DUCHESS is the debut novel from Daisy Goodwin, the script writer of the epic ITV Sunday night drama VICTORIA,.
A rich, rewarding love story, perfect for readers of Georgette Heyer, and fans of VICTORIA, DOWNTON ABBEY and THE CROWN. 'Sparkling and thoroughly engaging' Sunday Times 'Deliciously classy. An intelligent pleasure, full of exquisite period detail' Kate Mosse Cora Cash has grown up in a world in which money unlocks every door.
Her coming-out ball promises to be the most opulent of the gilded 1890s, a fitting debut for New York's 'princess'.
Yet her fortune cannot buy her the one thing she craves -- the freedom to choose her own destiny.
For Cora's mother has her heart on a title for her daughter, and in England -- where they are bound, to find Cora a husband.
When Cora loses her heart to a man she barely knows, she soon realises that she is playing a game she does not fully understand -- and that her future happiness is the prize.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 512 pages
- Publisher: Headline Publishing Group
- Publication Date: 06/01/2011
- Category: Historical fiction
- ISBN: 9780755348084
Showing 1 - 5 of 7 reviews.
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Review by Sarahursula
Although this book cannot live up to the review on the back - Alison Pearson's 'Henry James with belles on' is entertaining hyperbole – but it is engrossing and perfect for curling up with cocoa in pyjamas imagining the houses, jewels, clothes and men. And what a treat they are! The mysterious Duke of Wareham and adorable Teddy van der Leyden are a treat and also soppy hopeless Reggie Greatorex. The introduction of Miss Cash (and her money) into the British upper classes creates lots of delicious implications; jealous mothers (Mrs Cash is the victim of a great tragic-comic scene at the beginning of the novel) and the Double Duchess Fanny, unreliable friends and servants with their own agendas. Plus a baby. The most touching part of the novel has to be that of Bertha, Cora’s mixed race maid, who doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere until she meets the Duke’s valet Jim. There are developments… When reading this I kept thinking of Stewart Granger as the dark mysterious Duke of Wareham, Margaret Lockwood as Charlotte Beauchamp and perhaps Phyllis Calvert as the brilliantly named Cora Cash the richest American heiress in the whole wide world. Bring back Gainsborough Pictures to make this film please. And Daisy Goodwin is apparently writing another novel with a love triangle between a man, his fiancée and the Empress of Austria. Hurray!
Review by dieseltaylor
Grossly over-rated if one were to go by the blurbs on the cover. It is OK and one of the scene setting devices is good. Unfortunately the heroine is not very likeable and as the book wavers between a romance and "real" life one is not entirely comfortable in reading it. The storyteller has lost her bearings and you feel it.
Review by joririchardson
Set in both New York and England during the Gilded Age, this book follows the story of Cora Cash, a beautiful heiress famous for being the wealthiest young lady in America. Her scheming socialite mother only wants one last thing for her daughter: a title. And so, Cora is sent to England to find a husband of nobility, where she finds herself soon engaged to Duke Ivor of Wareham."My Last Duchess" was a weakly written, predictable, and insipid book that I was only too happy to eliminate from my shelves. The first thing that annoyed me was the author's constant throwing about of stilted descriptions of grandeur, obviously meant to be impressive. Rather than give the book an atmosphere of elegance and wealth (which is what normally comes to mind at the mention of the Gilded Age), I simply felt that she was tossing names and sums of money about at random.An example from the first few pages: "The Cash household had its own Hall of Mirrors, which the visitors who had been to Versailles pronounced even more spectacular than the original."Rather than show us the finery that the heroine is privileged to, Goodwin only ever tells us. Everyone in the book is aghast at the fact that the Cash family has their own trans-Atlantic steamer, and then the author throws in the fact that Cora brought along eight of her favorite horses on the voyage. But we never actually 'see' this ship for ourselves, or get a description of it. We are simply told that it is enormously expensive, and that's all that we really need to know.Cora is constantly referred to as "the richest girl in the world," or "an American princess," or "a billionaire."It just all seemed so very over the top and silly.All of the characters are neglected, even the main character of Cora. I never liked her - at the beginning, she was a spoiled, foolish girl. At the end, she was the same.She says to a man at one point: "Would you like to kiss me? Most men want to, but I am just too rich."I certainly never felt that I got to know her. In the first few chapters, the reader is given the impression that she is a strong-willed girl longing to break free of her mother's controlling grasp. It could have been an interesting plot development, but it is dropped within the first twenty pages.Cora's mother seemed set to become a major, interesting character, but she fell out of the plot entirely less than halfway through. Much the same for Teddy, a love interest of Cora's, who leaves and then weakly re-enters the book later on without ever being in much focus.None of the characters were focused on enough, and none of their relationships made very much sense to me. The supposed "romance" between the Duke, Ivo, and Cora was trivial and uninspiring. In fact, I would have to say that no love ever existed between them, and nor is it ever likely to. Cora conveniently (but utterly by chance) takes a fall off her horse while riding through the Duke's property. Also by chance, he happens to stumble across her and rescue her.Before they have shared even twenty minutes together, they are engaged. The society and gossip papers of two continents are obsessed with the couple's wedding, but they themselves approach it nonchalantly. The book seemed to always be highlighting the fact that their relationship lacked passion, and was cool and distanced - boring, even. I assumed that this was some sort of set-up so that Cora could leave Ivo in the end, but it turned out that it was just the way that their relationship was. Despite their obvious lack of any chemistry, the book also insists that they love each other.There is a revelation at the end of brothers falling in love with the same woman, who cheated on both of them, leading one brother to attempt suicide. His brother encouraged him, but then tried to save him, but failed, and convinced himself that he had killed his sibling, then went on to convince himself that the woman had actually made him kill his sibling, whilst both hating and loving her. The woman, to make the man angry, married a rich man, who was another sibling...All this boggling information was dumped on the reader in exactly this manor - rushed and nonsensical. Perhaps if it had been built up, and written with a bit of finesse and talent, it would have been interesting.But here, it was so C-grade soap opera, I skimmed the paragraph without even trying to make sense of it all.This was an extremely obvious, shakily written book that was sorely in need of an editor. Not recommended.
Review by barpurple
This book was an impulse buy for me. The title, My last Duchess, is from one of my favourite Robert Browning poems. I was impressed by the way Dasiy Goodwin created a whole glittering world filled will social danger and convention. The fact that I read this book in less than a day should give you some idea of how engaging the story of Cora Cash and her social circle proved to be. Hints and subtle elements of Browning's poem run through the story like an undercurrent, surfacing occasionaly like the dark threat of a shark's fin. Ultimatley the story has a happier ending than the poem, but thanks to Goodwin's skill there are moments when you feel that all smiles will stop.
Review by arielfl
I just loved this book. It was so up my alley. Two of my favorite books are Gone With the Wind and Forever Amber and this was sort of a mash up of those. Okay, this was not as a sweeping saga as those two books but it borrowed elements from them. There may have been nothing really new offered here but I don't care. It was the exact kind of story that keeps me turning the pages and removes me from the drudgery of housework. The story centers around Cora Cash (love the name) who is rich beyond belief as we are reminded every other page. Her mother lacks only one thing that money can't buy, a royal title, so she dispatches Cora off across the pond to land a duke. Cora is rich and pretty, Duke is handsome and poor, bingo! The Duke and Cora come to the marriage with their baggage from the past in the form of Charlotte and Teddy respectively. Of course the path to happily ever after cannot be smooth or their wouldn't be a story. Cue the misunderstandings and lost opportunities and you have the bulk of this book with a dollop of happy ending like a cherry on top. The supporting members of the cast such as Cora's maid and mother and the Duke's best friend round out the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book like a hunk Godiva chocolate.
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