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The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True…

The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an… (2001)

by Sian Rees

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Siân Rees has done an amazing job combining various historical records and sources into a dramatically convincing story. The first part of the book consists of accounts based on legal records about various women and their crimes, ranging from theft to prostitution, and their subsequent deportation to the penal colony, then Australia. The hardship of the voyage, the landing and finally settlement with new husbands is decribed in equally engaging chapters, which vividly bring the everyday life experience of the Eighteenth Century to life. However, the literary quality of the book falls somewhat behind the scholarly work, and at times descriptions are a bit too long. The research may not be very spectacular, but the conception of the book into a coherent narrative is quite successful. ( )
  edwinbcn | Oct 8, 2016 |
The Floating Brothel is a great non fiction history book mainly focused on the lives of female convicts who came to be aboard the Lady Julian for transportation to the new British settlement of New South Wales.

It starts with their background and crimes, the initial trials & journey to the shores. What was involved in the preparation of departure, the journey, romances, port calls and adaptation once landed. There's also the shocking landing of Neptune, Surprise & Scarborough where bodies are tossed overboard as the slavers care not for their human cargo, kept locked below deck, over 250 were dead, over 500 too weak and sickly to care for themselves and get to shore.

The book rounds out with the tale of John Nicol who pines for his convict wife whom he was forced to leave in New South Wales at gunpoint and can't find passage back, you can't help but feel sorrow for the turn his life takes.

Very much worth a read for a glimpse into this interesting chapter of Australian & British history.
  HenriMoreaux | Jul 3, 2016 |
This book is amazing, it is brilliantly written and enjoyable to read, at the same it is informative and educational with regards to the Colony that was the beginning of Australia ( )
  NikNak1 | Mar 17, 2016 |
Great and informative book, educational and shocking, overall I would recommend you read this in your life time before it is forgotten ( )
  Helen.Hunter | Mar 14, 2015 |
A little plodding in parts, but lively enough. Rees makes some observations about the relativity of justice and morality across time, but the bulk of her story is simply carried forward by the facts and the intimate narrative of John Nicol, retrieved decades later by a friendly ghost writer. Anyone with an interest in crime and punishment in late Georgian England, or in the colonisation of Australia would do well to stop with this book a while, but I'd recommend reading it alongside Tim Flannery's reissue of John Nicols 'The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner'.

All that said, the book is nowhere near as lively as bhowell's review of it here in LibraryThing. In fact bhowell's description of the book, and the book itself seem to part company in a radical kind of way after about 100 pages. For all of that, if Hollywood ever made a movie of Rees' book bhowells could certainly have written the script. Having checked out some of bhowell's other reviews this seems to be something of an entertaining aberration on her part. ( )
  nandadevi | Dec 28, 2014 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:06 -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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