Sisters of Fortune

America's Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad

Sisters of Fortune

Perfect for fans of the Emmy Award–winning series Downton Abbey, whose creator, Julian Fellowes, raved that Sisters of Fortune is “absolutely fascinating”—a real-life Jane Austen story, that follows the fabulous Caton sisters, the first American heiresses to take Europe by storm.

Based on intimate and previously unpublished letters written by the sisters, this is a portrait of four lively and fashionable women in early nineteenth century America.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 other’s sorrows, and rejoice in each other’s triumphs.

Descended from one of the nation’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, Sisters of Fortune is a romantic family history and an inside look at the adventures of America’s original blue-blooded girls.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 432 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451607635 | 
  • February 2012
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Sisters of Fortune includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Jehanne Wake. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Descendants of the first settlers in Maryland, the Caton sisters were four Southern belles expected to “marry a plantation.” But, unlike most women in their social sphere, their beloved grandfather Charles Carroll of Carrollton raised them to be independent thinkers, cultivating their interest in politics and money management. He encouraged them to step beyond the expectations and boundaries placed on early nineteenth century women. Beautiful and charming, clever and romantic, all four forged their own destinies in the midst of various personal, financial, political, and religious turmoil. Based on intimate unpublished letters, Sisters of Fortune offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of four loving sisters who were also extraordinary women.


1. In the prologue, author Jehanne Wake writes: “Restricted as they were by law and convention, [the Caton sisters’] attempts to participate in the male-dominated worl see more

About the Author

Jehanne Wake
Photograph by David Wake

Jehanne Wake

Jehanne Wake graduated from Oxford University and is the author of the biography Princess Louise, Queen Victoria's Unconventional Daughter.  She lives in London.  Visit her website at