Consuelo Vanderbilt was the most glamorous of the American heiresses to come to England and marry a duke, but for her the fairy tale ended in divorce and disillusion. Amanda Mackenzie Stuart has written a joint biography of Consuelo and her mother Alva which is a fascinating study of the super-rich of the Gilded Age.
Consuelo’s marriage to the Duke of Marlborough was a brilliantly engineered coup of social climbing. It was all the work of her mother. Alva was the daughter of a slave-owning Southern businessman who lost his fortune after the Civil War. Being brought up with slaves stamped her character for life;