Cover Image: Heiresses


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Member Reviews

I struggled with this book. This is not what I would describe as light reading. It was deeply interesting, but it mentioned so many people, many of whom had the same first or last name and had intermarried, that I had difficulty keeping them all straight. A lot of information is packed into this book, and the order seems to jump around - it does not flow chronologically. That said, this book demonstrates that a lot of moneyed women were exploited by sleazy men and left broke and alone. Some of the stories have a 'poor little rich girl' vibe while others scream "How could you be so stupid?"
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The lives of heiresses, especially those that we English royalty, fascinates me to no end and with the advent of Downton Abbey more is being researched and written about these wealthy women and their lives.  Living up to the adage that money can't buy happiness, most of the women in this book are the epitomy of that idiom.  Whether due to draconian laws, neglectful parents, or straight up idiotic mistakes these women are fascinating and tragic.  Thompson has done a fair bit of research into these women and what made them who they were, but the timeline covered is almost too expansive for the length of the book so it often felt like we were rushing from one heiress to the next and it got a bit confusing as to who was being talked about.  While creating a narrative in non-fiction is good for readability, sometimes the chapter per person or time period approach is easier going for the reader.  Overall, I enjoyed this book but would reccomend it to those who had read other books about heirresses first, it had several heiresses I have read about in other books and a few that I hadn't.  Thank you to NetGalley & St. Martin's Press for the free e-book.
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#Heiresses is about the lives of the rich, who-as F. Scott Fitzgerald said-are different. New York Times bestselling author # Laura Thompson writes a interesting and fascinating history of the life's. Often tragic and Often tragic and sometimes inspiring.....
Thank you for the advance copy,
#Netgalley and # St. Martin's Press
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I found the book Heiresses by Laura Thompson to be a very interesting and entertaining book. I love learning about socialites in the past and their experiences and I found this book to hold many surprises for me. The young (sometimes very young ) ladies who were married into these families sometimes faced a life of hardships and sadness despite the glamor and riches in their lives. This was a great book that provided a glimpse into the past and into the lives of some of these families and their hidden agendas.
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Great book about the lives of multiple Heiresses. Lots of details. Be prepared to have to actually sit down and think about the people in the stories that are explained.
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If you're looking for real-life stories of scandal, secrets and family drama, look no further. This non-fiction look at heiresses through four different eras is filled with unbelievable tales of abductions, hedonism and activism over the years. It's interesting to see how even though they came from some of the most privileged families, for most, control of their lives was in the hands of others and they were used as pawns for power. This would make an amazing documentary series!
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This novel tells the stories of rich women and their lives. In this book, we get a behind the scenes look at how they lived, and it was not as glamorous as tv shows have often make it out to be. The lives of the women were very fascinating. However, I did not really like how it was very written. It was very repetitive and dry. Still, I recommend this fans of Helen Rappaport, Eleanor Herman, and Fiona Carnarvon.
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A book full of fascinating topics and facts, but presented in a bit more of a factual and less of a storytelling tone than I was hoping for. Super interesting nonetheless!!
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This book puts to rest the stereotype of a rich young woman who is born with a golden spoon in her mouth and replaces it with tales like  the poor little rich girl who was Gloria Vanderbilt. Beginning with harrowing stories of very young women kidnapped and forced to marry (often before they even reached puberty), the book traces better known stories of rich women with disturbing stories, such as Barbara Hutton and Patty Hearst. The women featured are mostly English or American, though there are a few other European women represented.

I really expected to love this book, but the structure made it hard to follow, and there were far far too many people featured to even try to keep track of. But the research was impeccable and unimaginably thorough. I think I would find it more useful if I were looking for information on a specific person ( and there’s an index—yay!) rather than sitting down and reading cover to cover. But others may well love it. It’s well-written; I just found reading it too much like work. I read to escape. #Heiresses #NetGalley
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This book was good, but a bit all over the place. I was hoping for a deep dive into these women's lives, but rather we get a quick snapshot of them before moving on to the next.
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I loved reading this book! I found the writing to be very insightful and interesting. I was intrigued by the premise and I enjoyed reading it from start to finish.
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Who doesn't love the idea of being an heiress?  Millions of dollars at your disposal, awarded to you simply by the luck of your birthright.  But does this ensure happiness and a life without strife?  That is the question author Laura Thompson examines in her book, Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies.

Broken down into 4 sections that deal with heiresses of various eras- from the Georgian to the Victorian era, through the World Wars and on to modern day, Thompson does a good job of portraying the different tribulations  each woman faced and which were inherent to the individual time periods in which they lived.  

I was unfamiliar with several of the women referenced in this book and I especially enjoyed learning about these unknown heiresses.  My favorite sections were the ones that dealt with Consuelo Vanderbilt and Patty Hearst, two women who have long fascinated me.

While much of the subject matter presented here is serious in nature, Thompson handles it with a lighthearted and scandalous approach which I found delightful.  That is not to say there is no depth or quality to this book, there is, but let's face it, we all love to hear about the scandals and salacious lives of the uber wealthy.  This was a pleasurable and informative read that hit just the right spot for me and I highly recommend it for history lovers.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this advance ebook in exchange for an honest and fair review.
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Laura Thompson who has written biographies of Agatha Christie and the Mitford sisters, is no stranger to writing intelligent and enthralling narratives from sources such as historical records, newspaper articles and personal correspondence. Her latest book, “Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies” is filled with glamour, glitz, drama, and scandal. It also contains more misery, heartbreak and darkness than one would expect.

“The scale of the heiress’s life is part of what makes it so mesmerizing to behold. It is like watching a giant melodrama, one that arouses feelings of amazement, envy, bafflement, frustration and – above all schadenfreude. Almost always the trajectory of the story is downward, but then of course it starts from such a high point. An heiress! The very word sounds light, golden, aeolian. It conjures a slender creature sheltered within vast estates, delicate feet on Aubusson carpets, horses and servants both equally devoted. A fairy tale, in fact, but one that all too often ends badly.”

I found "Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies" witty, entertaining, insightful and rather haunting.

A huge thank you to @netgalley and @stmartinspress for the e-galley.
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Thank you so much to the author, St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for the complimentary ARC!
This review contains my honest and unbiased thoughts and opinions. 🌸

When I saw the cover and read the synopsis, I was really excited to read this book. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, an interesting read but just okay and different than what I thought it would be.

The book gives an interesting and detailed look at various heiresses of different eras, not only American heiresses but also those from the 17th, 18th and 19th century.

When you think of heiresses, you think of fame and fortune and living the life of luxury but that wasn't always the case. It tells how the women were married off for wealth, land, to form alliances, often against their will. We get a closer look into these women's lives and what they went through as "heiresses". This book sheds light on "behind closed doors" behind all the jewels and fancy dresses and smiles. Some of the stories show a much darker side of things. There were happier tales included, good along with the bad but it definitely shows a different side than most consider when thinking of heiresses.
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I wanted to enjoy this book, but it was not entirely what I expected. I knew, going in, that it was non-fiction, but I expected it to be more story-like. It read more like the journal articles I remember using to help with history term papers in university. There were more names and characters than I could keep up with, making it really hard to keep track of what was going on. I love historical fiction, so I thought I'd enjoy this one. It's obvious that there was a considerable amount of research done in the writing of this book, which I very much respect. I only wish it would have been a little easier to read.
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I thought something was wrong with me when I opened this book but actually found the content boring. History is usually never a dud for me and this was a topic I don't see explored very often. Sadly (for the author) I saw a few people concurred with me and were encountering the same problems I had with the writing style and content. There was way too much the author was trying to touch on. Within one page of the book I believe I read about four different heiresses but with no real value added by switching between to many. This book seemed to be about namedropping. After a while it got confusing and because of the constant switching I was never able to connect to anyone she talked about. Very well researched but unfornately no one I'll be picking up again.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
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I'm so disappointed I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. The premise hooked me immediately but the book didn't live to it. It was very disorganized, with too much information and too many names jumping around all over the book.
The author did an impressive amount of research that shows but this book would have benefited a lot if she had culled some of it and focused on less heiresses instead of trying to connect the many names and stories portrayed.
This book is more a reference book than a novel.
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Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and Laura Thompson for the opportunity to read and review an e-galley copy of "Heiresses: The Lives of the Million Dollar Babies."

Well... I must say... I had my fill of scandals and drama as I journeyed through this book.  It is teeming with a plethora of information that showcases the writer's ability to artfully report her research findings in intricate detail.  It is a sweeping saga about heiresses and their personal experiences that unfolds decades after decades, giving the reader an intimate, birds-eye view of their gilded, yet oftentimes, lackluster worlds.

Though at times the issues plaguing the heiresses are serious in nature, the author's delivery of said information is almost playful and gossipy at times and therefore entertaining for the reader. I found myself thinking of such television shows as the original version of "Gossip Girl," sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the next "omg" moment to hit me between my eyes.  Indeed... there were many scenarios these women endured that left me shaking my head in wonder.  Vilified, sold, stolen, bartered, raped, held captive, rendered insane, beaten, hidden, "enveloped in money" but without a shred of rights or dignity, stripped of decision-making or access to their own inherited funds... these "true stories" are horrific in nature to say the least.

My thoughts veered to Tina Turner's famous song, "What's Love Got To Do With It?" as it kept entering my mind as I turned page after page, reading all the drama that ensued for these "heiresses."  Where was the love? Sadly, it most often had nothing to do with these relationships.  These were business alliances, get-rich-quick for the groom schemes, relationships that favored the males and put a noose around the females' neck.  Rich in money and assets... yet poor in respect and genuine love.  How awful it must have been to be wanted only for what you can "deliver," for being chosen for the attractive "loot" you can bring into a relationship.   My thoughts were churning with a smorgasbord of questions while reading this book and so it is clearly a thought-provoking compilation that connects with the reader.

We are also introduced to females who thrived as heiresses.  This was a relief to read.  The struggle to "be" figured prominently for these heiresses.    
In summation, I enjoyed this book.  The information was rich, detailed and carried a playful tone to it as clearly, the reader can note that the writer, too, was probably rolling her eyes as she assembled the information for this book.  

I recommend this book for your reading pleasure.
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Even though this was a galley, the editing especially at the beginning was really terrible and made it hard to read. This book,would have benefitted from some better organization and structure. It was roughly chronological, but the purported chapters had little to do with their actual content. Further, the author kept switching subjects without warning and it was very confusing. It read as gossip and had a very light tone, which was fine and humorous, but some of the women profiled were obscure and the reader was not given much context.
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I’ll be honest, I really wanted to love this book. The subject is absolutely fascinating and an oft-overlooked piece of history. Coverage of women’s stories continues to be forgetting in the wider scheme of things. But something didn’t click for me from the get-go. 

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I feel like it might boil down to a pacing situation. Some chapters move along quickly, while others are bogged down with points and counterpoints that at times feel unnecessary.  We’ll be midway through one woman’s tale only to run into two or three or even more stories that might bear some similarities to the main “character” of the section. Sometimes there’ll be references to events or people from other eras as well, which added to my confusion. Then we’ll  return to the original points multiple pages later. I honestly sometimes forgot how the chapter started by the time it closed. 

One of my biggest qualms though is using pop culture based evidence to reinforce claims through the entirety of the book. It feels strange to see so much of the text dedicated to telling history intermingled with mentions of fictional characters from contemporaneous novels. From the very start, these real women’s lives are paralleled with those of Anne de Bourgh or even Countess Olenska from The Age of Innocence. I love the idea of counterbalancing the fact with fiction, especially because we as an audience can relate more to these “novel” women than their real-life counterparts. 

I truly do wish I loved this book, but again was left wanting for something other than what I received. Or for once, it just wasn’t my cup of tea—a strange notion given my love of learning more about women in history.
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