July 19, 2011

My Last Duchess - Daisy Goodwin

Series 1 of Downton Abbey has just finished in Australia and I am already suffering withdrawal symptoms. The costumes, the sets, the language, the pomp and ceremony were all filling my Sunday nights beautifully so in trying to keep the feeling alive I turned to My Last Duchess. The book is set a bit earlier than Downton Abbey but it had a lot of the same elements in terms of characters and situations so I was kept pretty happy!
My Last Duchess is the story of Cora Cash (not sure if the author was going for the pun with that name but I loved it all the same) an extremely wealthy only child of American industrialists and New York society try hards in the 1890's. Cora has just come of age and her society climbing mother is determined to see her married into the English upper classes so that her money can be joined with a family title. They travel to England and the obligatory Duke is found - all Cora has to do is fall in love it seems and the deal will be done. Of course it isn't quite as easy as all that and there are some love triangles and a side story that focuses on the love life of the ladies maid to get through. There are definitely elements of The Shuttle present in this story but I didn't feel My Last Duchess was quite as dark and foreboding in terms of the outcome for the American heiress.
I'm not sure if it was just the fact that I was hungry for any story that slightly resembled Downton Abbey but I really enjoyed this book. For me it was the details that did it - the story and its setting felt genuine and authentic and while Cora wasn't always my favourite character I don't think that necessarily mattered all that much. Looking forward to more from this author if it focuses on the same time period.


raidergirl3 said...

Downton Abbey was so awesome! They are making a second season, so that is something to look forward to, although when that will play in Australia or Canada, I'm not sure.

I was reading The House at Riverton by Kate Morton at the same time I was watching the show last January, and I would recommend it if you are looking for the same feel. It's the same time period, same focus on servants as well as upperclass.

Audra said...

I just finished this and loved it -- I compared it to a frothy cocktail: sweet, silly, unhealthy, fun. For me, it was the perfect summer read. The cover on yours is quite different than mine -- I like it!

Amanda said...

I can't wait for Downtown Abbey to pick back up. I can't believe they ended it with WW1 announcement. Arg!!!

Oooo, I agree with raidergirl3 - I remember really liked The House at Riverton too.

JaneGS said...

Ohh, sounds great. Anything reminiscent of Downtown Abbey works for me too,

Anbolyn (Gudrun's Tights) said...

I'm currently listening to this on audio during my daily commute and it is so charming! It definitely fills that Downton Abbey void.

Karen said...

Hi raidergirl3 - I can only imagine how long it will take for the second series of DA to be shown in Australia - but at least I know it will get here eventually! I have read The House at Riverton (which has a different name here in Australia)but it was quite a while ago now so maybe it is time for a re-read...

Hi Audra - the frothy cocktail comparison is perfect!!

Hi Amanda - I know!! Talk about a cliff hanger!!

Hi Jane - it is definitely a how that has hit the right note with a lot of people.

Hi Anbolyn - we might need to start a "filling the DA void" reading list!!

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