By Daisy Goodwin
St. Martin’s Press, $14.99, 468 pages

Daisy Goodwin’s The American Heiress is a historical novel with it’s roots in America’s Gilded Age. In a premise that is familiar to the many viewers of Downtown Abbey, wealthy young American women went to Europe to find and marry a title, often one that had prestige, but no money. This idea is the premise of The American Heiress, but this expected version of the plot all takes place remarkably quick, leaving the rest of this fairly substantial novel to dig in and explore the meat of the characters. Goodwin’s characters are a large part of what makes this novel so remarkable, as each of the main characters is richly drawn and has the complex interior and emotional life of a real person. The secondary characters are necessarily flimsier, but they still stick in one’s imagination. The novel also manages to offer a rewarding blend of the high-flown, and presumably, for most readers, out of reach settings and lifestyle (one scene talks about eating off of golden plates), with a mixture of deep humanity in the characters that will keep you spellbound until the end.

Reviewed by Katie Richards