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The American Heiress - book club discussion!

Let's discuss our first book!

First, let's all talk about our general reactions to it, to the ending, and to the characters...

And then we'll branch off onto specific topics-- including:

Discussing the relationship between Cora and Teddy (her hometown boyfriend/friend) compared to her relationship with Ivo (the duke).  

The ending: Do you believe Ivo (the Duke) in his confession? Or do you believe Odo (Charlotte's husband) and everyone else that the affair was still continuing.

Aside from the story and your impression of the ending-- what did you think of the writing and the author?

 

All other thoughts and discussion topics are welcomed :) 

Re: The American Heiress - book club discussion!

  • After a slow start into the book (the first chapter or so) I found myself engrossed. I LOVED it. I loved Cora, I loved the Duke, I loved everything. I wouldn't let myself go to bed one night on vacation until I read that the Duke came back from India and everything was okay with them.

    I was SO upset when I found out about his affair. I wanted it to not be true, but it was so obvious that it was. I wasn't hoping for her to fall into Teddy's arms or anything, as a matter of fact, I'm glad she didn't show up at the train station. But I am disappointed that she just accepted the Duke's plea. Up until then I had felt she was so strong, but in that situation I really felt like she was trapped.

    I've felt trapped in a mentally abusive relationship before, where cheating was involved... and it just hurt me to see that she had just given in. 

  • Totally agree with you on several points.  I too loved Cora and the Duke.  And I actually loved them together.  I was not on Team Teddy.  He had his chance and personally I think he only really loved Cora bc he couldn't have her. 

    As for the Dukes affair, I tend to believe him when he said it was over.  Everything is a matter of opinion and we don't really know if what Odo said was true fact.  I do believe the Duke was having an affair but I don't know that I believe all of Odo's speech.  

    I was very disappointed the Duke didn't arrive until the baby had been born.  I think that was a pretty crappy move on his part.  But I think we have to remember that things were different during this time.   

     

    ETA:  I hope the Duke was not having the affair once he was married to Cora. 

  • I think at first I also believed his confession, but the more I thought about it (and I admit, the more I read people's reviews of the book on amazon) the more I was swayed to not believe it. Everyone seemed to be in on it, and seemed to have known, it was like Cora was the last to know. I don't think it would have been such a big to-do if it had ceased after they got married.

    But I was impressed by how perfect his story seemed... I'm still inclined to lean more towards Charlotte's version of the story.

    ETA: I also agree with you that I was very disappointed that he missed out on pretty much the entire pregnancy, AND the child's birth. How ridiculous. I was just getting so angry.

     

    One thing I wanted to talk about too, but forgot to mention was Bertha! I loved her, and I think she was a really great character. I also really loved her relationship with Jim. 

  • I loved Bertha as well. I'm so glad to think that her story ended well for her and Jim. She was so great to Cora, and I definitely think if it werent for Bertha Cora would have been a pretty horrible person.

     As for the Duke and his affair, I still dont know what to believe. Part of me truly believes that Charlotte was so manipulative that she was just holding on to something that had been over for a while.

     Being pregnant, I have to say that the Duke was completely wrong in missing the whole pregnancy and the birth. I understand that he was hurt, but if he cared for Cora as much as he claimed he should have stayed to work things out.

  • I'm glad things worked out for Bertha and Jim too.  I thought that was a nice touch and secondary storyline.  I like that Cora would defend Bertha and kept true to her and vice versa.  It would have been easy for Bertha to turn on her. 

    As for Charlotte I don't think you could really take anything she said for much.  I still believe the Duke was trying to end things.  I also think it was a completely different time and place and you didn't always (or couldn't in some cases) marry for love.  Do I think it makes an affair right, no. 

  • image MrsKtotheE:

     I also think it was a completely different time and place and you didn't always (or couldn't in some cases) marry for love.  Do I think it makes an affair right, no. 

    Great point. That's also something that I had considered. When he was telling the story of how much he loved her, I definitely thought-- wow, she married for money, he married for money, the affair just makes sense.

    What I do really like is that the author really did leave it open ended. We don't know for sure what did happen, and I like that she left it up to interpretation.

    I think the book was really beautifully written and captured the time really well. I'd actually love to read some more books from the same period. I was disappointed in the ending-- I was honestly expecting a sappy love story... but I can't deny that I liked it. 

  • You're right about it being really well written. I'd definitely read a sequel if there was one. I really enjoyed the book as well, it's a keeper! What did y'all think of the dynamics between Cora and her mother in law?
  • Haha I do NOT like the Double Duchess... not one bit. 

    I actually saw that there's a short story called The Duchess' Tattoo, and I read the first few pages of it on a sample, and it makes me dislike the Double Duchess even more. She, like Charlotte, seemed to always be working against Cora and setting her up to fail. It seemed to me that the only time she was ever supportive was when the affair came out. 

  • She was awful, and so vindictive. Not to mention a total whore. If my mother in law ever treated me so poorly we would have serious issues. I almost died when she was coming on to Cora's dad! Oh and when she tried to not let Cora hold her baby! Ugh!
  • I thought the book was great!!!!!  I really only read books set in the 1800's, so loved this.  I really enjoyed Cora's character so much.  It was really great to see how the author developed her character as she matured.  I also really liked how we saw things from the servant's perspective.  I thought that was a wonderful addition to the story.  Bertha was a fantastic character, but sometimes I hated how I felt like she wasn't more committed to her mistress, but she was great at not gossiping.

     As for the Duke, I always liked him, but I never felt like he could be trusted completely from the beginning.  I had a pretty good idea about the affair from really early on in the book.  Of course Cora heard the undisputible sounds of an affair in HIS woods just before she was knocked off the horse, but I knew for sure when Charlotte wore her black pearls to the dinner.  As soon as that happened, I knew that there was a relationship there.  As as for it carrying on through the married, I really have no idea.  Part of me wants to say no as he was so attentive to Cora after they were married, but there were so many other little things that I really didn't like.

    Now, I have to say that I absolutely HATED the Double Dutchess!!!!!  Every time her character was brought into the picture, I'd start to cringe.  I hated her.  So I guess since I had such strong feelings towards her, I'd have to say that her character was very well written.  LOL!  I just thought she was evil and did nothing to help her daughter-in-law.  But after reading so many books set in that time period, she really is just the same as any other mother-in-law in that society.  And w/ Cora being American, it mad things even worse!!!!!!!

    And as for Teddy, he lost his chance long ago, and I'm really glad that Cora decided to stay w/ the Duke.  I really do believe she was happy in the end, and I really do think that Teddy only wanted her bc he couldn't have.  Totally agree!!!!!!  His character was just irritating to me.  LOL!

    What did you think of the relationship w/ Bertha and Jim?  Now that the Duke and Cora know, do you think they'll allow them to marry even though it's against "the rules" or do you think they both would be "let go" since servants weren't allowed to have relationships like that?  I'd love to have a follow up to that by the author.

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