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.