The Brideship Wife by Leslie Howard
The only thing on Charlottes mind was that her new life would start tomorrow when the ship would dock in Victoria on the northwest coast of North America. So very far from her home as she could imagine. The other women on board the ship would scatter, trying to make their way as best as they could. Most to marry; some would not.
England, 1862. Charlotte is shy and bookish, she knows her duty is to marry, but with no dowry, she has little choice in the matter. Charlotte realizes she can’t continue to live off the generosity of her sister Harriet and her wealthy brother-in-law, Charles, who can barely abide her– unless she could help his political aspirations were she to make an advantageous match.
Charlotte’s sister Harriet hosts a huge party where a potential and very influential person is hopefully someone Charlotte can - flirt and seduce. Unfortunately, Charlotte is so innocent the ploy goes completely off-kilter and Charlotte is fortunate to escape before being totally ruined. But whether the deed was completed or not - Charlotte is branded as ruined.
What a wonderful glimpse into a period of history where brave women whose lot in life was starvation or the street. One option was they could take a chance to sail to a new world to discover just how strong they were in choosing the right path, either by taking a chance on a marriage with sometimes desperate men, or take up a trade and work at something that back home she’d never be allowed to do.
Frankly, I was completed mesmerized by the story and simply could not put the book down. This debut by Leslie Howard was spellbinding and beautifully written and I look forward to more from this author.