The Million Dollar Duchesses by Julie Ferry blogtour book review

the million dollar duchesses

The Million Dollar Duchesses: How America’s Heiresses Seduced the Aristocracy written by Julie Ferry, publisher Aurum Press Ltd is available NOW in paperback format.  The book was previously titled The Transatlantic Marriage Bureau and is available in ebook, hardcover and audiobook with this title.

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Product Details (as per amazon page)

On 6th November 1895, the beautiful and brilliant heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt was wedded to the near-insolvent Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough in a dazzling yet miserable match – it glittered above all others for high society’s marriage brokers who, in this single year, forged a series of spectacular, and lucrative, transatlantic unions.

The bankrupt and ailing British aristocracy was suddenly injected with all the wealth and glamour of America’s newest dynasties. Millions of dollars changed hands as fame, money, power and privilege were all at play.

Brimful of scandal, illicit affairs, spurned loves and unexpected tragedy, The Million Dollar Duchesses reveals the closed-door bargaining which led to these most influential matches and how America’s heiresses shook-up British high society for ever.

million dollar duchesses blogtour poster

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the paperback launch of Julie Ferry’s debut book: The Million Dollar Duchesses.

I don’t tend to read many factual books but I was fascinated by Julie Ferry’s The Million Dollar Duchesses.  In a way the book almost felt like a story from a Hollywood script with its glamour, scandal, tragedy and nouveau riches.  The book highlights a specific year, 1895, that started off the invasion of young American ladies; highly educated ladies with their own dowry seeking the employs of a ‘society matron’ to guide them into English society with the sole interest in wedding a member of the English aristocracy.  These ‘society matrons’ with which one of the major players was Minnie Paget, orchestrated a very strategic game of chess with people as pawns being moved into position to make the best possible first impression.  It was a business of strategic introductions, a secret transaction for an employ that was economically beneficial to all parties.

I loved the phrase “social godmother” that the author Julie Ferry used to describe these conductors of English social etiquette.  The “social godmothers” were quite manipulative and gained much from their machinations including the friendship of the Prince of Wales (Bertie) as he loved the grand gestures from the heiresses and was in attendance at many of their extravagant parties.  It almost sounded like a game of one-upmanship as heiresses tried to out-do each other in their tasks of entertaining the fun loving prince.

Sadly tragedy, scandal and gossip followed some of the young proteges.  Their new married lives started off with such great promise but life was to throw many hardships their way.

An interesting, quite fascinating read into a year that the business of people became a highly effective profession for many and has left a defined mark on the English aristocratic history we know of today.

About the Author

Julie Ferry is a freelance journalist who has written for the Guardian, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and the Independent, among others. She writes on subjects ranging from protecting women’s rights to discovering Paris alone.

She graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in English Literature and then upped sticks and moved to a tiny island between Japan and South Korea to teach English, where she quickly got used to being followed around the supermarket by her students. It was in Japan that she got her first byline and was quickly hooked. Since then, she’s been fortunate to write for most of her favourite publications, but always harboured dreams of seeing her name on the front of a book.

Now, she’s managing to combine her love of writing and an obsession with interesting and largely unknown women from history, with the school run in Bristol, where she lives with her husband and two children.