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The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts
The Floating Brothel The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts Author:Sian Rees A seafaring story with a twist -- the incredible voyage of a shipload of "disorderly girls" and the men who transported them, fell for them, and sold them. This riveting work of rediscovered history tells for the first time the plight of the female convicts aboard the Lady Julian, which set sail from England in 1789 and arrived in... more » Australia's Botany Bay a year later. The women, most of them petty criminals, were destined for New South Wales to provide its hordes of lonely men with sexual favors as well as progeny. But the story of their voyage is even more incredible, and here it is expertly told by a historian with roots in the boatbuilding business and a true love of the sea. SiGn Rees delved into court documents and firsthand accounts to extract the stories of these women's experiences on board a ship that both held them prisoner and offered them refuge from their oppressive existence in London. At the heart of the story is the passionate relationship between Sarah Whitelam, a convict, and the ship's steward, John Nicol, whose personal journals provided much of the material for this book. Along the way, Rees brings the vibrant, bawdy world of London -- and the sights, smells, and sounds of an eighteenth-century ship -- vividly to life. In the tradition of Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea, this is a winning combination of dramatic high seas adventure and untold history.« less
Leigh reviewed The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts on + 376 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
This dry account of a cargo of convicts gets so bogged down with minutiae that every paragraph becomes a digression. Instead of following one person, delving into his/her life, and introducing secondary persons on the boat, the author attempts to make every person a main focus of the book.
Rees admits, herself, there are practically no records about anyone on the ship during the voyage except through one man, so most of what she writes is repetition of the same few facts told in different ways. Very disappointing.