This is an account of the great era of the European marriage which extended between 1870 to 1909 and which numbered some forty marriages between well-heeled but ""socially-hungry"" Americans and some titled, transatlantic attractions. Elizabeth Eliot who is Lady Elizabeth Kinnaird, the child of one of these unions (and a pleasant novelist- Alice, Henry) has selected some of them for fuller explanation and documentation, and comments more broadly on the society which produced them as well as some of its arbiters-Ward McAllister (Organized Exclusiveness) and Mrs. Astor (""the grand mammy of them all""). If the first marriage was Miss Florence Garner's to Sir William Gordon-Cumming, the first great marriage was that of Jennie Jerome to Lord Randolph Churchill- a love match as few were and few proved to be. Such was not the case when Miss Leiter married Lord Curzon (""I am a most superior person"") which, while not undertaken with passion, ended in a lifetime of devotion. And then there was the House of Wilson, multimillionaire R.T., whose three daughters made such desirable matches- notably Belle to Lord Herbert, and Grace to Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. All in all, it is social history of a special phenomenon, with asides on the power and the prestige and the patronage it occasioned. Elizabeth Eliot writes stylishly- and there may be something of the snob to snub appeal of Cleveland Amory's The Last Resorts.