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The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj (edition 2012)

by Anne De Courcy

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127994,816 (3.48)11
Member:thecaptivereader
Title:The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj
Authors:Anne De Courcy
Info:Weidenfeld & Nicolson (2012), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:Non-fiction, Topic: History, Location: India, Topic: British Raj, Author: English, Read in 2013

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The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj by Anne de Courcy

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This book by the well-known biographer Anne de Courcy is an interesting by product of her much weightier book on the daughters of the Viceroy Lord Curzon. It's largely anecdotal and perhaps says nothing very new, but it's interesting to reflect on the individual stories of a generation of middle and upper class women whose lives were very different from those they might have had if they had stayed in Britain. Lots of original source material has been drawn upon, most of it admittedly from trhe latter days of the Raj in the first half of the 20th century but also some from the possibly more interesting 19th century.
  ponsonby | May 11, 2015 |
Memories, diaries and recollections of Raj women
  MarilynKinnon | Apr 29, 2015 |
The number of books I have started and not finished in my life is exactly 1. This is it. ( )
  JenBurge | Mar 20, 2015 |
Parties, punkahs, tiger shoots and romance aplenty in this jolly but flawed book, with its tales of British women who went out to India to bag husbands in the days of the Raj. De Courcy paints a dazzling picture of a forgotten era...and yet, I found myself wanting so much more from this study, which is in dire need of a feminist and postcolonial lens for its subject.

This is the kind of book that last enjoyed broad popularity in Britain thirty years ago, and nobody these days has any business writing about the British Raj in such an uncritical and largely celebratory manner. Plenty of British women went out to India under their own steam, to work, and of those Fishing Fleet girls who married, not all ended up leading bone-idle, pointless lives. The book would have benefitted from profiling some of these women, alongside an otherwise unbroken stream of frivolous girls fresh off the boat, interested only in evening dresses and the number of invitations they received.

And on the inevitable topic of racism, this book leaves a tremendous amount to be desired. The subject of these women's relationships with "the natives" is largely confined to one chapter (and the shortest one in the book, at that), in which the author alternately holds her nose and wrings her hands over the subject. I very much had the impression that she'd have avoided the topic altogether if the editors had allowed it.

In short, there's some great storytelling here, but this is an old-fashioned and inadequate treatment of an otherwise fascinating subject. ( )
  Panopticon2 | Mar 1, 2015 |
Aide memoir: Excellent book. Focuses on the first half of the 20th century, but gives plenty of earlier stories. Highly recommend. ( )
  reader68 | Jul 1, 2014 |
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From the late 19th century, when the Raj was at its height, many of Britain's best and brightest young men went out to India to work as administrators, soldiers and businessmen. With the advent of steam travel and the opening of the Suez Canal, countless young women, suffering at the lack of eligible men in Britain, followed in their wake. This amorphous band was composed of daughters returning after their English education, girls invited to stay with married sisters or friends and yet others whose declared or undeclared goal was simply to find a husband. They were known as the Fishing Fleet and this book is their story, hitherto untold.… (more)

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