Synopses & Reviews
As gripping as the best historical novel, andlt;Iandgt;Sisters of Fortune andlt;/Iandgt;is the story of the exuberant Marianne, Bess, Louisa, and Emily Caton, the American sisters who enthralled the highest levels of English Regency society decades before the notorious Dollar Princesses of the Victorian era. The Caton sisters were descended from prominent first settlers of Maryland, brought up by their wealthy grandfather Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, and were expected to and#8220;marry a plantation.and#8221; Instead, their grandfather made sure that they were well educated, raising four beautiful and charming young women who were unusually independent, intelligent, fascinated by politics, clever with money, and very romantic. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Arriving in Britain, the Caton sisters swept into the set of the Duke of Wellington and went on to forge their own destinies in the face of intense prejudice against Americans and Catholics. After capturing the heart of the Duke of Wellington, who could never marry her, Marianne shocked the world by marrying his brother Richard, Marquess Wellesley, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and taking a prominent place as a Catholic Yankee among the Protestant Anglo-Irish. Emily married Scots- Canadian John McTavish, heir to Montrealand#8217;s North West Company, and stayed home in Maryland, where she managed the familyand#8217;s estates and wealth. Louisa became the Duchess of Leeds and a member of Queen Victoriaand#8217;s court, while Bess made a fortune speculating in the stock market. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Based on the sistersand#8217; intimate, unpublished letters and lavishly illustrated, andlt;Iandgt;Sisters of Fortune andlt;/Iandgt;is a portrait of four lively and opinionated women, much of it told in their own voices as they gossip about prominent people of their time, advise family members on political and financial strategy, soothe each otherand#8217;s sorrows, and rejoice in each otherand#8217;s triumphs. It is also a meticulously researched history of Anglo-American relations and the political, financial, and social world of the nineteenth century. From post-revolutionary Americaand#8217;s White House and wealthiest plantations to Europeand#8217;s rarefied world of titled aristocracy, the story of Marylandand#8217;s Caton sisters is a stunning work of scholarship that is intimate in tone, sweeping in scope, and as compelling as any novel.
"Marianne, Louisa, Bess, and Emily Caton were heiresses of the early 19th century with impeccable American breeding. Three of them sailed to England, married aristocrats, and left a legacy of public success, financial savvy, and an independence worthy of their family's heritage: their grandfather, a wealthy planter, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Wake (Princess Louise: Queen Victoria's Unconventional Daughter) details the sisters' formative years with their grandfather Charles Carroll, their early favorable impression in England, and their high-status marriages. Although the sisters were sometimes labeled fortune seekers, Wade proves that their intelligence and diplomacy often improved the positions of their husbands, including Emily, who married a Canadian and eventually returned to Maryland. In between descriptions of parties in Regency England and post-Restoration France and intimate pre-Victorian royal relationships, the Catons' deep interest in financial ventures, improving acceptance of Catholicism, their founding of orphanages, and their intense familial relationships support Wake's assertion that these remarkable women successfully negotiated unpopular issues that might have ruined lesser women. In Wake's hands, the sisters still dazzle, blending continental influences with their enviable but heartbreaking adventures in England and France. 16 pages of color and 16 pages of b&w photos; 2 maps. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
A history book about The Caton sisters, blue-blooded American heriesses who took British society by storm in the mid nineteenth century.
Perfect for fans of the Emmy Awardand#8211;winning series andlt;I andgt;Downton Abbeyandlt;/Iandgt;, whose creator, Julian Fellowes, raved that andlt;I andgt;Sisters of Fortuneandlt;/Iandgt; is and#8220;absolutely fascinatingand#8221;and#8212;a real-life Jane Austen story, that follows the fabulous Caton sisters, the first American heiresses to take Europe by storm.andlt;brandgt;andlt;brandgt;Based on intimate and previously unpublished letters written by the sisters, this is a portrait of four lively and fashionable women in early nineteenth century America. Much of it is told in their own voices as they gossip about prominent people of their time, advise family members on political and financial strategy, soothe each otherand#8217;s sorrows, and rejoice in each otherand#8217;s triumphs. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Descended from one of the nationand#8217;s founding fathers and raised to be educated, independent, and opinionated young women, Marianne, Bess, Louisa, and Emily Caton traveled to England in 1816 and won coveted places at the highest levels of Regency society by virtue of their charm, intelligence, and great beauty. An unusual, remarkable true story of money, love, and life at the top, andlt;I andgt;Sisters of Fortuneandlt;/Iandgt; is a romantic family history and an inside look at the adventures of Americaand#8217;s original blue-blooded girls.
About the Author
After graduating from Oxford, Jehanne Wake worked as a trainee at Solomon Brothers in New York City. Returning to London, she worked as a researcher at Burke's Peerage and in the House of Commons. Her first book was a biography, Princess Louise, Queen Victoria's Unconventional Daughter, followed by a history of Kleinworh Benson, one of London's leading merchant banks. She lives in London.