New Book – My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin (Pages 1 – 41)

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Publishing year: 2010

I have read just a few pages of this new book.

It starts in 1893, and we get to know the Cash family in Newport, Rhode Island. They are a very wealthy family, but since they don’t originally come from upper class, the more distinguished families look down on them.

The main character is Cora Cash, the daughter of the family. She is eighteen, and her mother Nancy Cash is overbearing, breathing down her neck at all times. Cora longs to be freed from the pressures of her mother. In Newton she is friends with Teddy von der Leyden, who she believes to be in love with. That night at a fancy-dress party, thrown by her mother, she gets bold and asks Teddy to meet her on the terrace alone. When they meet, Nancy goes straight to the point. She wants him to kiss her, and when he hesitates, she takes the matter in her own hands and kisses him. When the kiss finishes, Teddy says that he can’t offer her any promises. His ambition is to go to Paris and paint, and he can’t afford to have a wife in tow. Teddy also knows that Cora doesn’t want to marry him as much as to find a way to free herself from the clutches of her mother, and Cora silently admits that he is right.

When they kiss again, they are caught by Cora’s mother, who had planned some big display of lights on the terrace. Her dress is full of bulbs who will be lit and she thinks it will be the sensation of the party. When she catches Cora and Teddy, she is incensed, but Cora doesn’t let her intimidate her, telling her about her being the one chasing Teddy. Then something terrible happens. When the lights of Nancy Cash’s dress are lit, some electrical glitch takes place, and her hair catches fire and part of Nancy’s face is burnt.

The book jumps forward in time. It is 1894 and Cora and her mother are in Dorset, England. This was a trip that Nancy had planned so that her daughter could meet good eligible bachelors. Things are a bit different now, as with her burnt face, Nancy is not in the thick of things, and I have the impression that Cora is freer to do whatever she wants.

I am curious to know where the book will take us. Cora is not the most likeable character. She is quite spoilt and even pompous, and her mother isn’t much better.

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