Skip to main content

Review: The Shuttle, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Pages: 476
Original date of publication: 1907
My edition: 2011 (Persephone)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Persephone subscription, December 2011

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, wealthy young women from the States flocked over to England to marry titled men. It was a win-win for both sides: she would get his title, while he would get her money in order to maintain his estate. One of the most famous of these transatlantic marriages was that of Jennie Jerome and Lord Randolph Churchill (parents of the future Prime Minister Winston Churchill), which apparently helped inspire the characters in The Shuttle. Rosalie Vanderpoel is the daughter of a wealthy American and marries Sir Nigel Anstruthers, an English aristocrat who plans to squander her money and cut her off from her family. When Rosy’s younger sister Bettina decides to go to England to see what happened to her sister, things begin to change.

I really enjoyed Burnett’s story. Her style is engaging and easy to read, and her characters are easy to either like or dislike—there is no in between, especially in this novel. As such, I thought that Bettina as a character was a little too twee, and a little too perfect to be completely believable. There’s not a lot of character development, but everyone is perfectly delineated. One of my favorites was G Selden, the ambitious and engaging American typewriter salesman who somehow helps to hold up the plot and connect people.

The title of the novel comes not from the mode of travel but from the idea of Fate and Life weaving a shuttle between two worlds that are so different. Burnett “shuttled” back and forth between England and America by steamship the way that people travel between the two countries today by plane. As such, Burnett understood well the differences between Americans and the English, and she explores this theme to perfection in this novel. For example, I liked, but secretly abhorred, watching Rosy acclimatize to English customs, especially with regards to money. American women were accorded a lot more freedom than their English counterparts, and it was interesting to see both Rosy and Bettina deal with this over the course of the novel.

This is Persephone no. 71.


Karen K. said…
I just ordered this from Alibris! I found an old copy for a good price. I've heard this is a really good Persephone and I look forward to reading it, especially since I'm a huge Downton Abbey fan and this ties in with that period.

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy:, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…