CONSUELO: Portrait of an American Heiress by James Brough

CONSUELO: Portrait of an American Heiress

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Even those titillated by tales of the super-rich will find this saga of Cornelius Vanderbilt's great-granddaughter Consuelo on the hokey side. Celebrity-hound James Brough, whose earlier works have included The Dog Who Lives at the Waldorf, The Fabulous Fondas, and Margaret: The Tragic Princess, depicts Consuelo as a cross between Cinderella and Rapunzel. Mother Alva is the wicked one, keeping her daughter a virtual prisoner in their Fifth Avenue mansion, lashing her about the knees for her transgressions, and breaking up her romance with the dashing Winthrop Rutherfurd: ""I will shoot and kill him to prevent him from ruining you. I shall hang for it and my death will be in your hands."" Father Willie is weak and ineffectual, and Consuelo herself is ""strikingly beautiful, consistently repressed and altogether melancholy."" A loveless marriage to the Duke of Marlborough makes her Winston Churchill's cousin, and turns her story into a chronicle of European royalty. Her displeasure with the vacuous life of the rich leads to a sort of consciousness raising. Consuelo begins concerning herself with world affairs and eventually hosts her own weekly London salon. There follow divorce, remarriage to a Catholic (marriage #1 is annulled, despite two children, on the grounds she was forced into it by her mother), and a life of almost continuous ""good works"" until her death at age 88.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1979
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan