The first American heiresses to cross the Atlantic Marianne, Bess, Louisa, and Emily Caton were descended from the first settlers in Maryland, and brought up by their grandfather Charles Carroll, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence.
These Catholic Southern belles were expected to 'marry a Plantation'. But they were independent, fascinated by politics, clever with money, romantic in mood.
In London, Marianne, Bess and Louisa forged their own destinies in the face of intense prejudice, against both Americans and Catholics. Marianne's sister-in-law Betsy ended up married to Napoleon's younger brother Joseph, to the Emperor's fury, and found herself abandoned in Paris.
Marianne Caton eventually married the Duke of Wellington’s elder brother the Marquess Wellesley and became the first American lady in waiting to Queen Adelaide.
Bess Caton used her social position to speculate successfully on the stock market.
Louisa Caton eventually became the first American Duchess of Leeds and a friend of Queen Victoria.
Emily Caton only ever wanted to stay at home in Maryland, running the large family houses.
Based on intimate unpublished letters this book explores the love between sisters and Anglo-American relations in the nineteenth century. It is also a story of money, of the power it gave these women, particularly over the men in their lives, and how it shaped social and even international relations round them.
USA Publication: Touchstone April 2011