Consuelo And Alva: Love Power In The Gilded Age

By: Stuart, Amanda Mackenzie

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Consuelo And Alva: Love Power In The Gilded Age by Stuart, Amanda Mackenzie
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HarperCollins: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005. A fabulously wealthy New York beauty marries a cold&ndash;hearted British aristocrat at the behest of her Machiavellian mother &ndash; then leaves him to become a prominent suffragette. On 6 November 1895, crowds of curious sightseers gathered outside the Church of St Thomas on Fifth Avenue in New York. Those who had arrived early enough to peep inside the church saw that it had been decorated with thousands of white flowers at eye&ndash;watering expense. Even a casual reader of local newspapers would have known that the small, dapper bridegroom was a great English aristocrat. An audible shiver of schadenfreude went through the crowd at the arrival of the bride. She was 20 minutes late, and anyone who caught a glimpse beneath her veil could see that her face was swollen from crying. On the day Consuelo's grandfather died, he was the richest man in America; the Vanderbilt fortune stood at US$200 million. Her father, Willie K, started to spend it, being the first generation of 'social Vanderbilts'. In this he was enthusiastically assisted by Consuelo's mother, a force of nature named Alva Erskine Smith, who was determined to take the family to the top of New York society. Marrying their daughter to an English aristocrat of modest income seemed like just the thing. It didn't matter that Consuelo loved someone else &ndash; as Alva once told her, 'I don't ask you to think, I do the thinking, you do as you are told.' Like many a woman before and since who has been coerced into marriage &ndash; paradoxically, her<p>. Paperback. New.

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