Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
This book, a cultural history of American heiress marrying English Lords, is just plain fun and fascinating. The Kindle version is currently on sale in the US, but To Marry an English Lord is so lavishly illustrated with photos and drawings on every page that I can’t imagine reading an ebook copy.
By the late 1800’s--early 1900’s there was a growing number of young ladies in the US who had lots of family money, but who couldn’t break into proper American “Society” because being nouveau riche they had no social status. At the same time across the Atlantic noble British families were having trouble paying for the upkeep and modernization of their estates--which is understandable since it wasn’t considered proper for the aristocracy to work--so marriage between the two groups made sense, but whoa! The culture shock! All of which is entertainingly recounted in this book.
After growing up in a fancy, almost palace-like mansion the American heiress often started married life in her British husband’s dark, deteriorating ancestral manor without indoor plumbing. The large (and very interesting) contrasts in attitudes about married life, gender roles, infidelity, money, servants, and politics further complicated her assimilation into her new life. There were a variety of ways to cope and the book delves into the personal stories of many of the women, including Jennie Jerome Churchill (mother of Winston) and Consuelo Vanderbilt.
To Marry an English Lord makes lively use of its rich historical material and is full of fruitful background information for further enjoying fiction and film. Edith Wharton and Henry James used the Victorian-Edwardian era tension between British and American customs in their novels and Julian Fellows, the creator of Downton Abbey, says this book inspired the Cora character in that series.