Customer Review

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American girls in England, 3 Aug 2007
This review is from: The Shuttle (Paperback)
I had never read any of Frances Hodgson Burnett's novels for adults and was amazed by how well she writes and how interested I was throughout the 500 pages of this very long book. One reason is that The Shuttle has a definite theme: the effect of the intelligent, energetic and wealthy American girls who came over to England at the turn of the last century (the 'dollar princesses' apparently) who, in many cases, married wealthy Englishmen who needed sorting out. In this case, the heiress, Bettina Vanderpoel (we are meant to be reminded of the name Vanderbilt) has come over to rescue her sister, who married someone, a Sir Nigel, twelve years before and was never heard of again. (It's true, you have to ignore this implausibility - that the Vanderpoels are meant to be such a close family and yet took all that time to find out what was happening.) Bettina then meets her own Englishman with a title, and these bits of the book are enjoyably Mills and Boon-ish. The other interesting theme is the way Bettina galvanises everyone into doing up the stately home which Sir Nigel has ruined through his fecklessness. I loved this book, turned the pages feverishly, and can completely recommend it as a summer holiday, or any holiday read.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Nov 2010 04:59:15 GMT
Ruellia says:
One of the lovely things about this engrossing and page turning book is the sophisticated bending of traditional plots: the quest plot where the adventurous soul takes a far journey and encounters perils to rescue a damsel in distress, and the plot of the selfless nurse deprived of sleep to toil without reward over the sick, comforting the sufferers and holding their hands tenderly as well as giving unstinting devotion to their physical care. Except that in the Shuttle the fearless, daring, and resourceful hero of the quest plot who rescues the damsel in distress is a woman, and the self-sacrificing nurse bending tenderly over the cots of the sick is a man.

Hodgson Burnett gives equally sophisticated, effective, and unexpected twists to gothic themes of imprisonment, sexual violence, and fierce hunger to degrade and humiliate women. I have a few mild complaints about The Shuttle but it is beautifully written and a true page turner, and many of the insights about the differences between Americans and English remain illuminating today.
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