Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The American Heiress, by Daisy Goodwin

The American HeiressThe American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cora Cash is the heiress of one of the wealthiest families in the United States at the turn of the century. Young and spoiled. Her parents have given her the best. She and her mother travel to Europe to be presented into European high society and obtain what Cora’s mother wants most: a husband with a title for Cora. There she meets Ivo, an English Duke with a lot of baggage. Cora, is young and naive and she starts to mature throughout this book.

The book is well written and contains beautiful prose. Anyone that likes Austen will like this book. The book creates a pretty complete world and develops a good character history. The characters all seem very lively and distinct and each has their own voice. There is no doubt that Daisy Goodwin is a good writer.

But, the books also has a few problems. There are too many characters. There are 6-7 minor characters that have 1-2 segments about their lives and are never heard from again. Whilst listening to this book, I kept asking myself the purpose of introducing yet another minor character. The answer is to provide another point of view, have a more complete scenario, of the events, the main characters and the book. But, it is still excessive. Did we really need to get a segment about the telegraph guy? No.

Another issue with the book is the character of Ivo. Even though he was the main character, I felt zero empathy for him, could not connect, and downright disliked everything about him. Goodwin created a character that was unable to share even the most minuscule of feelings and therefore, seemed unlikable at best.

Lastly, I doubt I would have finished this book if it not were because this was an audio book. At first I did not like the reader, Katherine Kellgren, but she grew on me. She had a beautiful lyrical voice that infused life into the book and the characters. But, the book kept slowly dragging on. I realized that it was not the narrator that was dragging so slugglishly, it was how the book was written. The multitude of characters, the slow pace and the story all worked to make a very sluggish book.

I enjoyed the audio book and the book contains beautiful writing. It just has a very slow pacing.

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