Marriage, for many generations, was not about love, commitment and compatibility. It was about class, money and social standing.
In 1776, America broke away from England and became a free nation in her own right. About 100 years later, young American heiresses would reverse that trend by going back across the pond and saying I do to male members of the English aristocracy that had the title and the land, but not necessary the fortune to keep both going.
In 1989, writers Gail MacColl and Carol McD Wallace wrote To Marry an English Lord, a book about these young women who chose spouses from among England’s elite. Starting with the Gilded Age and ending with 1914, the book traces the stories of these girls. Compiling images, facts and press clippings from the era, the writers take the reader back to a time when marriage was more about duty and fortune than love and commitment.
My initial desire to read this book started with the fact that I am huge Downton Abbey fan and that Julian Fellows was inspired by the stories of these girls. What kept me reading was that despite the fact that these girls had no rights and were being used as cash cows by their husbands, was that they were able to forge new lives and thrive in a country that was not their own, at least by birth.
The most fascinating aspect of this book was how many members of the upper class have American blood in them. Winston Churchill’s mother was American as was the paternal great-grandmother of the late Princess Diana.
I recommend it.