Monday, May 9, 2016

Review: The Shuttle by Francis Hodgson Burnett

Synopsis: This book is about a American heiresses marrying English aristocrats; by extension it is about the effect of American energy, dynamism and affluence on an effete and impoverished English ruling class. Sir Nigel Anstruthers crosses the Atlantic to look for a rich wife and returns with 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 the house. Only when Rosalie's sister Bettina is grown up does it occur to her and her father that some sort of rescue expedition should take place. And the beautiful, kind and dynamic Bettina leaves for Europe to try and find out why Rosalie has, inexplicably, chosen to lose touch with her family. In the process she engages in a psychological war with Sir Nigel; meets and falls in love with another Englishman; and starts to use the Vanderpoel money to modernize ‘Stornham Court’. (from the Persephone website description)

Review: When I saw this in an antique shop out in Washington State, I knew I had to own it. Burnett's children's books shaped my thinking as a child, and it is thrilling to discover her adult works. The Shuttle is a mature, slow, deep, read, full of gorgeous descriptions, tense moments, and thoughtful observations clearly taken first hand. More lyrical than her other works, it seems that Burnett used this work as a way to remark on the culture and society she knew well, herself someone who "shuttled" back and forth from the U.S. and England over thirty times - a rarity in those days. True to her style, the characters and story extol beauty, kindness, energy, and family. For fans of Burnett, for soft romances from the early 1900s, and for historical novels, this is an excellent choice. I highly recommend.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: N/A/ (Note: Persephone Books' reprint carries the ISBN 9781903155615)
Year Published: 1907
Date Finished: 4-24-2016
Pages: 512

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