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The Brideship Wife    by Leslie Howard order for
Brideship Wife
by Leslie Howard
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2020 (2020)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

While America's mail-order brides have gotten lots of attention, it turns out that Canada had something similar - brideships. These vessels carried groups of English women, who were from various walks of life and who had no other means of getting married, to the British Canadian frontier, where there were plenty of men.

Charlotte was a passenger on one of these. She was fleeing her disgraced social standing, caused mainly by her brother-in-law's political ambitions. Charlotte was supposed to entice and marry an upcoming influential English politician, but instead that politician took advantage of her. With no one to support her, she was forced to take passage on a brideship.

Aboard the ship were several classes, and Charlotte gets to know all of them because she is determined to be useful. As she assists the ship's doctor, she learns about the life of women outside her social sphere, and it opens her eyes and enables her to make friends she never would have been able to make in England.

Author Howard has given us a well-researched look at the frontier of Canada with its gold rush and pioneering settlers. Although the upper classes wished to keep their status, there was room for the lower classes to find a better life for themselves, and the enterprising among them did. The proximity to the United States and its gold rush brings out quite a social contrast between Americans and British, which it would have been fun to hear more about.

This is a very interesting look at a situation not so well known. There are some parts of the story that are unrealistic, but they do not detract from its overall impact.

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