b2s pick: The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett

the-shuttle-book-poster-frances-hodgson-burnett.jpgBOOKS 2 SCREEN PICK

The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1906)

Agent: Public Domain


Summary: The Shuttle is about 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 and philanderer and virtually imprisons his wife in the house.

When Rosalie’s sister Bettina is grown up it occurs 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.

The book’s title refers to ships shuttling back and forth over the Atlantic (Frances Hodgson Burnett herself traveled between the two countries thirty-three times, something very unusual then).

Notes: A fantastic period piece. It captures a brilliant bit of history, the industrial age is on the rise and the traditional class system on the decline. New money is spilling off the shores of America, as the coffers of the British monarchy is drying up. The children of the titled families leave in droves to America to fill their families bank accounts, and the new money legitimizes themselves with a title. Two strong female characters finding empowerment in a period where women had very little power.

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