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Extended Audio Sample The Glitter and the Gold: The American Duchess—in Her Own Words, by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (219 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan Narrator: Coleen Marlo Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan shares her remarkable story, providing a unique insider’s perspective of aristocracy’s golden age.

Consuelo Vanderbilt was young, beautiful, and the heir to a vast family fortune. She was also deeply in love with an American suitor when her mother chose instead for her to fulfill her social ambitions and marry an English duke. Leaving her life in America, she came to England as the Duchess of Marlborough in 1895 and took up residence in her new home—Blenheim Palace. 

The ninth Duchess gives unique first-hand insight into life at the very pinnacle of English society in the Edwardian era. An unsnobbish but often amused observer of the intricate hierarchy both upstairs and downstairs at Blenheim Palace, she is also a revealing witness to the glittering balls, huge weekend parties, and major state occasions she attended or hosted. Here are her encounters with every important figure of the day—from Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and Queen Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas, Prince Metternich, and the young Winston Churchill. This intimate, richly enjoyable memoir is a wonderfully revealing portrait of a golden age.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Susan | 2/16/2014

    " More glitter than gold, Consuelo leaves out most intimate details and instead fills her book with events and dinners with the glitterati including the Czar and Czarina of Russia, Queen Victoria, King George, the Prince of Wales and many others. Although these tales of dinners and balls can be interesting, they end up more of a list of social events than a look into Consuelo's life. The story becomes more heartfel when she talks about her marriage to Jacques Balsan and her happy life in France. Most exciting is her tale of their escape from Nazi occupied Paris to Spain and on to Lisbon and America. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Lydia | 2/11/2014

    " I read this for more background history on "Downton Abbey." Consuelo Vanderbilt chronicles her forced marriage to Charles Spenser-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough in 1895, an exchange of royal title for American money. They renovated his home, Blenheim Castle. Her perspective and writing style is couched in the times, so it starts reading like a presidential diary after about 200 pages. She lived 87 years, this book was published 10 years before her death. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Linda | 2/5/2014

    " Enthralled with Downton Abbey, I heard about this book written in 1953 by real American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, and thought I'd get a first-hand account of her experience, marrying the Duke of Marlborough in 1895. I found it to be a very interesting story with some surprises and many insights about the gilded age. Consuelo was a great beauty who brought over $60 million (by today's standards) to her English husband and his family in a loveless marriage forced on her by her mother. Her life was full of interesting people - royals and writers in particular. (Edith Wharton based Conchita Closson in "The Buccaneers" on Consuelo.) The book ends too soon (WWII); I would have enjoyed reading more about her later years, but all-in-all it was a fascinating story about the end of an era. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Leslie | 1/22/2014

    " The bits relevant to my interests - the debutante froofery, marrying the Duke of Marlborough, etc. - were so descriptive, engaging and well-written. Once the Marlborough divorce happens and Consuelo moves on to suffrage and charity work my interest waned quite a bit, but the last half of the book was just as well done as the first. This lady led an amazing life, and what she accomplished was miraculous considering the time in which she lived. Anyone interested in this period of history due to Downton Abbey's influence should look for this one. "

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