My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin
I enjoyed reading this quite compelling story of an American heiress,
Cora Cash, who marries an English duke in the gilded age of the late 1890's.
A wonderful story to read which gives valuable insights into this late
Victorian era; the English aristocracy, the hunts and the horses, the elegant
dinner parties and wonderful fashions of the time. Respectability and
dress sense and a sense of propriety all have their place in this novel. It
also has its humorous aspects as well as the serious and the tragic circumstances
which occur at the beginning of the novel.
The characters of the novel and the descriptions of life in those times
are quite fascinating. Queen Victoria's son (the Prince of Wales) is an
interesting character, who attends dinner parties and luncheons who is an invited guest
at the castle; the parents of the American heiress and the mother
of the Duke are also quite colourful characters. The lives of the servants, Bertha,
Cora's lady's maid and the Duke's valet, Jim, are also of
interest. This story does develop and also is quite fascinating for the reader in a later century. The author has spent time in the novel developing the characters of the
servants and I did also enjoy reading about their lives and romance which were
also a theme of the novel.
The decorative arts and design are also an integral part of this story. The
English castle is in need of renovation and the mansion in Newport, where the
story initially is set, has decorative designs which are intended to be replicas of the
Chateau of Versailles.
There is a sense of romance in the novel and it is to be hoped that the heroine
of the story is not disappointed. It is a nice story to read and is well recommended.