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American Duchess

A Novel of Consuelo Vanderbilt
Written by: Karen Harper
Narrated by: Ann Marie Gideon
Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

Before there was Meghan Markle, there was Consuelo Vanderbilt, the original American duchess.

Karen Harper tells the tale of Consuelo Vanderbilt, her “Wedding of the Century” to the duke of Marlborough, and her quest to find meaning behind “the glitter and the gold”.

On a cold November day in 1895, a carriage approaches St. Thomas Episcopal Church on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. Massive crowds surge forward, awaiting their glimpse of heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Just 18, the beautiful bride has not only arrived late, but in tears, yet her marriage to the aloof duke of Marlborough proceeds. Bullied into the wedding by her indomitable mother, Alva, Consuelo loves another. But a deal was made, trading some of the vast Vanderbilt wealth for a title and prestige, and Consuelo, bred to obey, realizes she must make the best of things. 

At Blenheim Palace, Consuelo is confronted with an overwhelming list of duties, including producing an “heir and a spare”, but her relationship with the duke quickly disintegrates. Consuelo finds an inner strength, charming everyone from debutantes to diplomats including Winston Churchill, as she fights for women’s suffrage. When she takes a scandalous leap, can she hope to attain love at last?

From the dawning of the opulent Gilded Age, to the battles of the Second World War, American Duchess is a riveting tale of one woman’s quest to attain independence - at any price. 

©2019 Karen Harper (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rodney & Jennifer C
  • 2019-04-26

really enjoyed this

I enjoyed this story so much! It was very well written and te narrator was great!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carol Davis
  • 2019-09-24

♥️ LOVE ♥️

From beginning to end, this book was absolutely amazing! The narrator kept you engaged and did a superb job! The only bad thing I can mention is the last page....because that meant the book was over 🙁

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  • debra
  • 2019-09-22

remarkable story of courage

a woman who was ahead of her time. Very enthralling story of the Duchess of Marlborough and her life. good read

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  • Liz
  • 2019-09-20

The ending was a bit disappointing

I don't want to give anything away but I am sure there is more Consuelo did after the war
It's as if the author ran out of steam and quit

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  • Ella Harlow
  • 2019-09-17

Not a believable portrait of a real person

I started off liking it but then realized it was the narration that was good and not so much the storytelling. It was initially a nice attempt to bring Consuelo Vanderbilt to life based off her writings and facts and some creative license here and there but ultimately it fell completely flat when the image put forth of Consuelo was entirely flat, grade school level character development in that she was perfect and pure, wholesome and Saintly, devoid of all flaws or nuance and humanity. She’s depicted like a Mother Theresa in her wishes to do good and her disdain for the class distinctions yet she so obviously perpetuated it in her life for even when she could marry for her own choice she didn’t choose an ordinary Joe but a haughty Frenchman. She obviously had nannies who cared for her children who she left, she didn’t even know her newborn son was sickly as others were doing the caring while she lounged around recovering. Its not convincing to then have her painted as a perfect human when she simply wasn’t. The part where her own friend was seducing and having an affair with her husband was brushed over. Many things were portrayed just sterile and blasé, lacking any feeling or lifeblood—like they were robots. It was a different era but humans have humanity and emotion no matter what age or class they’re in. The author didn’t seem to think about that. In all I was asking myself why I was bothering listening to this mindless drivel. I skipped through the last several chapters. The holier than thou little miss perfect hokeyness is just ridiculous and tiresome.

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  • LPolin
  • 2019-07-24

Surprisingly interesting life

This story starts slowly and describes her early years as a trite and entitled Vanderbilt who’s greatest hardship is her domineering mother. But the story becomes more interesting as Consuelo matures into her own woman and defines herself through her philanthropy

Unfortunately the narration was rapid fire but when I figured out to turn the speed to 3/4, I was able to enjoy the story. The narrator did give life to the various characters in the book.

I most enjoy novels rooted in history with glimpses into notable people lives such as Winston Churchill and Edith Wharton- not to mention the indomitable Alba Smith Vanderbilt Belmont.

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  • Kristi L. Grady
  • Amarillo, TX United States
  • 2019-04-13

Loved this book!

I absolutely loved this book. I’ll probably listen to it again soon. Consuelo’s life spanned many different eras, and the author blended the love story in perfectly!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jasper Van Wyk
  • 2019-07-26

Loved

Loved the story and the narration for this book. Story was very well told. Definitely a wonderful listen!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful