I have mixed feelings about The American Heiress, the debut novel from Daisy Goodwin. While I really enjoyed the writing, the author can clearly write in the 19th century setting, and most of the characters were well developed and thought-provoking, there were a few lacking elements that kept sneaking up on me. The story is set in the 1890’s and follows an American heiress, Cora Cash, and her journey with love, money, and prestige. Though Cora has fallen for a “normal” man, her mother insists that she can only marry someone with a title. The dreadful Mrs. Cash brings Cora to England in search of the perfect royal candidate. Cora is quickly engaged and married to Ivo, the Duke of Wareham, and quickly finds that perhaps the royal life isn’t what she expected. Her husband becomes withdrawn and secretive, often leaving for extended periods of time, even once Cora finds herself pregnant with his child, her close friends are not to be trusted, and the suspicions of affairs reeks in every home. Cora tries to stay positive, but becomes increasingly aware that money and titles do not equal happiness.
Why did I have mixed feelings? I already mentioned the writing was great, Goodwin is a terrific storyteller, but there were just a few oddities mixed in that would snag my attention. Right from the beginning, Mrs. Cash somehow gets lit on fire and half of her face is scarred. Seems like a big deal, but after Cora wonders if she is dead, the scene is over and I was left wildly confused as to what was going on. There were little scenes like these that were thrown in but didn’t really seem to have a place in the story. I think this might be because there was an overabundance of characters. I kept wondering if some of the smaller characters would make a bigger impact, but it didn’t seem to happen. They could have been cut out and the story could have been shorter and more to the point. There were times where the plot seemed to drag on, but then others where I didn’t want to put it down. The ending did leave me pretty unsettled though, because it seemed Cora was finally going to stand up for herself and there was a big build up around it and then…she settled. And then the story was abruptly over. So you can see my confusion with this book. I was going to give it three stars, but decided to add that half star because of the gorgeous cover, and the fact that were a few sporadic moments where I didn’t want to put the book down. I’m curious to know if others have read The American Heiress and what your thoughts were.[Rating: 3.5]