Before there was Meghan Markle, there was Consuelo Vanderbilt, the original American Duchess. Karen Harper tells the tale of Consuelo Vanderbilt, a woman who defied expectation and social convention to become a strong force for good and one of the most fascinating women at the turn of the 20thcentury. From the dawning of the opulent Gilded Age and “The Wedding of the Century” to the Duke of Marlborough, to the battles of the Second World War, American Duchess is a riveting tale of one woman’s quest to find meaning behind “the glitter and the gold.” Harper will be in conversation with novelist Janet Beard (The Atomic City Girls).
On a cold November day in 1895, a carriage approaches St Thomas Episcopal Church on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. Massive crowds surge forward, awaiting their glimpse of heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Just 18, the beautiful bride has not only arrived late, but in tears, yet her marriage to the aloof Duke of Marlborough proceeds. Bullied into the wedding by her indomitable mother, Alva, Consuelo loves another. But a deal was made, trading some of the vast Vanderbilt wealth for a title and prestige, and Consuelo, bred to obey, realizes she must make the best of things.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Harper is a former Ohio State University instructor and high school English teacher. Published since 1982, she writes contemporary suspense and historical novels about real British women. Two of her recent Tudor-era books were bestsellers in the UK and Russia. Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for Dark Angel, and her novel Shattered Secrets was judged one of the best books of the year by Suspense Magazine.
Born and raised in East Tennessee, Janet Beard moved to New York to study screenwriting at NYU and went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her first novel, Beneath the Pines, was published in 2008, and her follow-up, The Atomic City Girls in 2018. Janet has lived and worked in Australia, England, Boston, and Columbus, Ohio, where she is raising a daughter and working on a new novel.