I love listening to the History Chix
podcast and have learned about some incredibly interesting and important women from it. The hosts do a wonderful job of introducing their audience to these amazing women and the time they lived in. Quite frequently after listening I find myself wanting to know more and looking up a book they recommend. One such episode was the episode about the American women who looked for husbands among the English aristocracy, (link here
) which was certainly an interesting piece of American history. The history chicks mentioned how much they love To Marry an English Lord
by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace so I had to pick it up.
Who Were They:
To Marry an English Lord describes the American women, and their families’ reasons for traveling overseas to search for a titled husband. This book does a great job in explaining the motivations behind this phenomenon on both sides: the husband and the wife (well, in most cases her family’s motivations). The book begins by describing the society as it was in the United States at the time, which included a very select and established elite allowing for very few of the newly wealthy to break into this established society. These women and their families decided to give their families a hint of the aristocracy through the English Lords who, in many cases, were willing to marry into these wealthy families provided they came with generous dowries. The English aristocracy was having financial issues, as their estates, which had provided them with their income for generations were no longer producing enough money. These families were unable to pay for the upkeep on their estate let alone able to finance the standard of living they were used to.
The authors describe the culture clashes between husband and wife and the mixing of their two cultures: between the self-made American man and the long-established English aristocrat. The hardworking American ideal and the titled elite that destained trade. But this came into effect especially when the American heiress married and was expected to become the English lady. I really liked the chapters the author spent on the couples and what happened to them after marriage. In many cases, spoilers the marriage ended up being unhappy, but in a few cases, it was a happy marriage.
What I Thought of the Book:
To Marry an English Lord was filled with pictures, political cartoons, newspaper articles that were interesting, fun to look at and to read. Each type of media directly related to the point the author was discussing and enabled the reader the ability to gain a 19th-century perspective instead of just a modern one. The authors’ writing was clear, entertaining and not filled with unnecessary jargon. I also enjoyed the factoids the author included in the margins.
This book told the story of a remarkable historical period that tied to cultures and countries together. I enjoyed this book a lot and would recommend it to really anyone. This book would be an excellent place for someone who is new to nonfiction to start. This book would also be enjoyed by any romance reader. Especially, as the author focuses on the relationships rather than just the facts of the times. She focuses on different couples and tells their story and through them tells the history of the time. I really appreciated this as it made the time period feel a little more real and a little less dry. This book was a fantastic read!
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