Friday, July 27, 2012

Staff Pick - The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

Have you ever read a book that consumes you so much that it’s all you can think about? Whatever you're doing, you're wondering what's going to happen next? I hope you as readers have felt this way. This was my experience with The American Heiress (M) by Daisy Goodwin.

Goodwin tells the tale of Cora Cash a rich American whose overbearing social-climbing mother takes her to Europe to find the one thing all her American dollars won’t buy - an aristocratic title. Once they arrive in England, an unfortunate accident on the fox hunt causes Cora to meet the Duke who will eventually become her fiance. Cora has her title but is plunged into a foreign world. With a caustic mother-in-law, Princes and aristocrats, fans of the television series Downton Abbey (M) are sure to enjoy The American Heiress.

Once I finished The American Heiress I knew it would be difficult to find something that would rank as high in my estimation but I pulled some read-a-likes together all the same.

Wideacre (M), the first book in the Wideacre trilogy by Phillipa Gregory, is a good place to start. Wideacre concerns Beatrice's love for the estate she can never inherit since she is a woman. The first in the trilogy is a character-driven story of obsession with inheritance and legacy. This moody story may be gruesome at times so proceed with caution.

Coral Glynn (M) by Peter Cameron brings us to more modern times than either The American Heiress or Wideacre being set in the 1950s. This character-driven tale shows Coral nursing the mother of a WWII veteran who is grappling with coming to terms with his war experience and sexuality. Fans of the romantic side of The American Heiress are sure to enjoy Coral Glynn.

Mistress Shakespeare (M) by Karen Harper tells a moody story of William Shakespeare's broken engagement to Anne Whateley. Shakespeare is forced into marriage when Anne Hathaway becomes pregnant. Shakespeare continues a clandestine affair with Anne Whateley when he goes to London to work. This novel of historical fiction illuminates one of the mysteries of the Bard's life.

The Dream of Scipio (M) by Iain Pears is a character-driven tale set in three different historical periods. Characters from the fourth, fourteenth and the twentieth centuries are all studying a neo-Platonic document called The Dream of Scipio written by Manilus Hippomanes. The novel presents each character's interpretation of the document and the influence it has on their lives and romantic relationships.

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