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The Floating Brothel by Sian Rees
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The Floating Brothel (2001)

by Sian Rees

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A raw piece of Australian history ( )
1 vote GlenRalph | Oct 30, 2009 |
Wow! Captivating 18th century British and Australian history. Stories of the lives of a shipfull of convict women on their way to Van Diemen's Land. Sometimes written more like a novel than a history. Sometimes slow, but fascinating read. ( )
2 vote Liciasings | Aug 18, 2009 |
This is a great read but its title is a little deceptive. This is a true story of a group of English women being transported to Australia and almost certain death for mostly petty crimes. They decide to live. They overcome the crew and take command of the ship. They then live the lives of pirates until they have enough money to retire as genteel wealthy widows in a city in the northeastern states. These women entice travelers aboard the ship with promises of sexual favours but mostly these men receive a roughing up and loss of all of their money and property and are then tossed out, back to their ship or the mainland if they are lucky. The women are more properly described as pirates as their goal is theft and promised sexual services are frequently not forthcoming. Like sensible women, they save their money and give up piracy when they have enough to retire in comfort. They then live the rest of their lives as respectable well off women, wisely choosing to settle in America, where immigrants abound and there is little risk of detection. ( )
1 vote bhowell | May 15, 2008 |
I read about this book not realising it was non-fiction. I genuinely thought it was complete fiction and following reading it I went on to find out some information about the ship, Lady Julian. The beginning of the novel was a little tiresome and some points could be skipped through. It depends exactly on what part of the ship's life you are interested in.

I appreciate Rees is setting the scene and introducing us to the ladies on board and the men who had the power over them. I wasn't always interested in reading about their affairs, life and crime and therefore skipped accordingly. What did catch my eye was the inconsistency in punishment leading to transportation to parts beyond the seas. The debate within the book as to why men were hanged and women burnt at the stake was interesting and one of the women who was due to die at the stake was pardoned following the celebrated recovery of King George.

Her writing style is excellent. It feels like a reading of fiction; she intermingles quotations exceptionally well with her own narrative. The eight pages of photographs/sketches help to paint a picture especially pof John Nichol, whose memoirs I may well search out.

One improvement for me would just be to really know what life was like in the colonies. Rees paints such a detailed picture of the convicts before their arrest and during their year at sea that I would have liked a little more. However I guess the book is about the Lady Julian as well as its passengers. The voyage is unbelievable, I hope you find it as enthralling as I did once I became engaged. ( )
3 vote SmithSJ01 | Mar 23, 2008 |
The premise of this book sounded very good. The saga of female convicts being transported aboard ship. Many formed relationships with crewmen, some were, of course, mistreated/raped. Unfortunately, the prose is not engaging. It is well-written, but more like an essay is well written. I found it hard to stay interested. Recommended for big historical fiction fans, but casual readers may want to try something else. ( )
1 vote jshillingford | Jun 26, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0747266328, Paperback)

In July 1789, 237 women convicts left England for Botany Bay in Australia on board a ship called The Lady Julian, destined to provide sexual services and a breeding bank for the men already there. This is the enthralling story of the women and their voyage. Based on painstaking research into contemporary sources such as letters, trial records and the first-hand account of the voyage written by the ship's steward, John Nicol, this is a riveting work of recovered history. The Floating Brothel brilliantly conjures up the sights, sounds and particularly the smells of life on board ship at the time and is populated by a cast of larger-than-life characters you will never forget.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:00 -0400)

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In 1789, 237 women convicts left England for Botany Bay in Aust. on board a ship called The Lady Julia, destined to provide sexual services and a breeding bank for the men already there. This is the story of the women aboard that ship.

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