The Floating Brothel
by Sian Rees

Hyperion, 2002. ISBN 0786867876.
Reviewed by Peggy Talley
Posted on 07/19/2003

Nonfiction: History/Current Events

Sian Rees put her degree in history as well as her family upbringing around boat builders to good use in doing the extensive research necessary for her first book.

The Lady Julian was one of the many ships that sailed from England in the late 1700s bound for New South Wales, Australia. It took many months to load and ready the big ship. Finally on July 29, 1789, she sailed out with between 225 and 240 women convicts and five infants who had been born on board during the time the ship was being outfitted. The youngest of the convicts was eleven; the oldest was sixty-eight. There was a crew of thirty with five or six officers. Sixty births were expected during the long voyage due to the natural course of events between the crew of 30, the five or six officers and the women on board.

It is almost beyond the limit of our imagination to believe that the journey took until June 11, 1790, but that it did. There were a few stops at ports along the way to bring on supplies of fresh greens, citrus fruits and live cattle to prevent the attacks of scurvy among the women and crew.

Ms. Rees tells a believable tale of the amazing resiliency of the human body and spirit during this year of sailing to a new world.

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