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The Shuttle, a 1907 page-turner about American heiresses marrying English aristocrats, explores the effect of American energy, dynamism and affluence on an effete and impoverished English ruling class; and the process by which a great English country house can be brought back to life with the injection of transatlantic money. Sir Nigel Anstruthers marries the daughter of an American millionaire, Rosalie Vanderpoel. He turns out to be a bully, a miser and a philanderer and virtually imprisons his wife in his house, Stornham Court. Only when Rosalie's sister Bettina is grown up does it occur to her and her father to rescue her. The books title refers to ships shuttling back and forth over the Atlantic and also to the weaving of the alliance between America and Britain. One of the first and best-known of all the Anglo-American matrimonial alliances was that of Jennie Jerome to Lord Randolph Churchill. Another was the marriage of Consuelo Vanderbilt (left) to the 9th Duke of Marlborough: Blenheim was renovated with her money. The actual model for Stornham Court is Great Maytham Hall, near Rolvenden in Kent.This had, and still has, a wonderful garden which, in The Shuttle, Bettina sets about restoring, and which is described in The Making of a Marchioness, a Persephone bestseller; a few years later, in 1911, it inspired the walled garden in The Secret Garden.

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