Book Review: ‘The Brideship Wife: A Novel’ By Leslie Howard Is A Great Debut Novel

Based on the history of Britain’s Brideship Wifes, author Leslie Howard has written a great debut novel.

The year is 1862 in Victorian England where women are expected to be married young and wife’s and mothers if you are part of the upper crust. For Charlotte at age 21 is almost considered an old-maid (and she has no money as her well off father lost it all before he died). Her sister Harriet and her husband Charles want her married to George, who can further Charles political career. A big party is taking place and Charlotte is to spend time with George and get him to propose.

She and George slip away to a nearby island where George tries to rape her. He has no interest in her as a wife. She manages to get away form him but is warned not to say a word as he would make sure no one believed her. She tells Harriet but no one else. This must be kept quiet she says for the sake of Charles political career. But Charles finds out and he tells Charlotte she must go to Victoria in Canada as part of the Brideship Wife’s relocation plan and never return to England. He sends Harriet along as well, as he found out she knew.

It’s a long voyage to the new world and at first things go okay. Then Harriet gets sick and Charlotte is on her own. She has made friends with some of the lower-class women and they found a friendly bond and decide how they will move on with their futures in the new world. But Charles and George are not quite finished yet with Charlotte. She must fend them off and start a new life in a new country and maybe just maybe have a happy new life.

A beautifully written historical novel that shows just how badly women were treated in that era. The characters of Charlotte and Harriet are really well-written and you root for them the whole way as you read the book. I love these kind of novels as I read them I learn new stuff about things in history that I never knew about. More books like this and author Leslie Howard will be a force as a writer.

You can pick up The Brideship Wife in stores on Tuesday, May 5th.

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