The Husband Hunters by Anne De Courcy

I picked this book to try to read while I was still recovering from surgery. I couldn’t concentrate, but it sounded fun and kind of light. I knew some about the subject matter but not a whole lot. I was right – it was fun and kind of light but there was a lot more meat than I expected and it included a British point of view which was different for me.

The Husband Hunters
by Anne De Courcy
2018 / 311 pages
rating: 8 / history

What is usually called the Gilded Age in the US lasted from then early 1870s until, by most accounts, 1900. During the time a LOT of things were happening in the US. Immigration from Europe and elsewhere was peaking, industry was booming, the West was being tamed and settled and mined. Millions of dollars were being made by some and social climbing was a way of life for a few at the top. But after you’ve conquered (or been defeated by) the ultra-rich New York social scene where was there to go? The US had no aristocracy per se so … it was off to Europe for an impoverished title to acquire by marriage.

De Courcy outlines the lives of more of these young women who were looking to buy titles than I knew. There are so many tales – Vanderbilts vs Astors of course but also the stories of women rich from western mines with dubious reputations who wanted in on the New York life and a title for their daughters. Some were brazen others shy and most got taken for a lot of money.

The American girls did have an impact on Europe, maybe mostly in England, but it wasn’t long-lived. Their moms too, did not live such a visibly “gilded” life for long either. It is an interesting book.

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