Happy Cinco de Mayo! Today we will be jumping back in time looking at The Brideship Wife written by Leslie Howard. I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was released today May 5, 2020–so all of you can go find a copy for yourselves now!
When this book popped up in NetGalley to request I was very excited because so much of the historical fiction genre focuses on the World War II era, so I have been trying to request some books outside of that era.
Charlotte is our main character, and we meet her in 1862, while her elder sister Harriet is trying her hardest to find a good match for Charlotte. But those efforts go awry, and finally Charlotte’s last option is to sail from England, all the way to the British Columbia colony on one of the brideships. Historically these ships brought unmarried, poor, disadvantaged women to the colony in hopes for a better life of more marriage and work opportunities.
This book does a good job of demonstrating what social etiquette was like during this time period, while also allowing our heroine to defy those norms. It was refreshing seeing a well-born young woman who understands working hard. Harriet is banished to British Columbia with her sister, as punishment from her husband. For most of the trip she was still concerned with Charlotte marrying well, not really making a plan for creating a living. It seemed much more realistic, or at the very least more relatable, to show Charlotte finding a position and fumbling her way through making money to support herself.
I also thought it was very interesting to see the effects of laudanum addiction amongst the rich. I have read other books in the past that briefly mentioned rich women taking laudanum for their nerves, but they didn’t really convey an understanding of addiction like Howard illustrates in The Brideship Wife. In general, I loved that the characters weren’t just handed a happily-ever-after.
All-in-all I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’ll definitely be checking out others written by Howard.
Happy reading 🙂