Friday, March 19, 2010

The Floating Brothel

Nonfiction for the student services blog this month...

The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts
by Sian Rees

The convict ship Lady Julia set sail from England in 1789. Its cargo was a bevy of “disorderly girls”, unemployed women reduced to petty thievery or prostitution, who had been sentenced to “Transportation to Parts Beyond the Seas.” These women were destined for Sydney Cove in New South Wales to provide companionship and children for the many male convicts already peopling the area.

Ostensibly the true story of the voyage, The Floating Brothel is also a work of imagination. Rees admits that the primary sources available to her were limited and that she relied heavily on probably-unreliable diaries of one of the ship’s crew. That being said, she does a fantastic job of bringing the 18th century to life for her readers. And, while The The Floating Brothel is not as salacious as its title suggests, it is a fascinating read.

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