This is the true story of Louisa Carolina Colleton, whose tale could have flown from the pages of a gothic novel. In 1777, at the age of fourteen, after many adventures, the beautiful heiress inherited valuable estates on two sides of the Atlantic. As in every good gothic novel, Louisa's father died, and having been deserted by her mother, she went to live with her maternal uncle in his early Tudor manor in the depths of the Devon countryside. Eight years later she left England to salvage her inheritance, a journey which took her to the Bahamas, and then to South Carolina. On her return to England she married a dashing naval officer, with whom she had ten children. Her affairs were much commented on at the time by relations and friends: we can occasionally be privy to the chaos around her dining table, or her distress at the death of one of her children. She had another traumatic adventure on the Atlantic at the age of thirty-five, when her ship was captured by French privateers. Over the years, despite her best endeavours, her fortune was demolished by the American Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, corrupt lawyers, fraudulent deeds, a spendthrift husband and profligate son.