The Husband Hunters: Social Climbing in London and New York
This book follows the late 19th and early 20th-century ‘invasion’ of Europe by an influx of wealthy Americans. Between 1874 and 1914, one hundred American women married into the British aristocracy. De Courcy sets out to explore the social, personal and economic reasons behind this, as well as the impact that these marriages had on American and British society, and the individuals themselves. Perhaps because she is trying to do so much, the book is simultaneously fascinating and frustrating. The glimpses into peoples’ lives, the reasons behind their marriages and the ways that different women adapted to their changed circumstances are absorbing. Equally, I found the analysis of the differences between American and British elite cultures at this time, or the ways in which the influx of American money was used to support some of the great stately homes, very interesting. However, I also found that the narrative jumped around considerably, often providing just enough detail for the reader to become emotionally engaged with the individuals, only to be taken on to the next couple. Overall, however, this was an interesting and worthwhile read.