The Rajah sails for Australia.
On board are 180 women convicted of petty crimes.
Daughters, sisters, mothers - they'll never see home or family again. Despised and damned, they have only one another.
Until the murder.
As the fearful hunt for a killer begins, everyone on board is a suspect . . .
Based on a real-life voyage, Dangerous Women is a sweeping tale of confinement, hope and the terrible things we do to survive.
A huge thank you to Penguin Books and Michael Joseph Books for sending me a copy of this. As soon as I read the description, I had to start reading it straight away!
Historical fiction has fast become one of my favourite genres in the last year. I was never a huge nonfiction fan but I find historical fiction is the perfect mix of nonfiction and fiction. You are gaining knowledge from a period that happened in our history but the story is told in a way that doesn't feel like you're in a history or politics lesson. Storytelling is really at the heart of these stories and you finish it relishing in the fact that you got to experience a piece of history that you may never have appreciated or given much thought to before.
Upon reading the description of the book, you assume that the story will focus on the murder but you quickly learn that there is a lot more to this story. Of course, the crime does shape much of the story but Adams also gives us an eye opening account of what these women lived through and how they were forced to act in ways that resulted in them being on the Rajah. We experience this long sea adventure with them and get to know some of the characters on a deep level as they draw nearer to their end destination. And the crime itself serves as a great way for the reader to uncover certain secrets that many of the women never want to see the light.
Dangerous Women is the emotional and captivating story of what it meant to be a woman in the 1840s and you can find similarities to how many women face similar trials and tribulations today. Adams does an amazing job of depicting how difficult life was back then for everyone. However, I like how she shines a light on women and their untold, but equally important, stories. There is a great sense of friendship and comradery that develops between many of these women and you, the reader, feel like you have been welcomed into this group of brave and unfortunate souls.
Throughout the book, there is very little focus put on male characters. Apart from necessary interactions with the Captain, the doctor and clergyman, there is very little mention of other men. We learn the names of 2 other members of the crew but apart from that, Adams gives her full attention to spotlighting the 180 women on this ship and their journey. We get to hear their stories, learn about their sorrows and their hopes for redemption on the other side of the world.
I loved the idea of the coverlet and I googled what it looked like and it's so beautiful! It's amazing how these women managed to create something like that on a perilous journey from England to Australia. I would love to see it in real life!
One thing I did find was that it was hard to differentiate some of the characters. The main few you got to know very well but the rest seemed very similar in personality and also had very similar names (like Rose, Ruth, Beth, Becky) which made it hard to tell them apart. That's the only real flaw that I can pick at however, the writing and pace is excellent and I couldn't put it down. I didn't guess who the killer was, so that was a nice surprise at the end! Sometimes it's so easy to see through the clues early on and have guessed who the culprit was but I didn't have this person in mind.
If you're into historical fiction, then this is definitely worth a read. The writing is lovely and atmospheric and it's an amazing story that gives you an insight into what so many women experienced and how they survived it. The book is coming out on 4th March 2021, so keep an eye out!
IN 3 WORDS/PHRASES:
'That's what we too are like us women. We're a patchwork...Here are friends and enemies. We've turned ourselves into something. We're many small pieces, each pf us different but now stitched together. A patchwork of souls.'
Miss Hayter, I connected with her the most and felt like she grew so much during the voyage. There was also a lot more than meets the eye with her; she had a lot of different layers to her beneath the poised exposure.