Two teenagers transported for life to the colony that became Australia
As a transplanted Australian, I have always been interested in the history of our beautiful country, so was keen to read A Strumpet of London & A Pig Pincher by Rob Brow.
Mr. Brow has crafted a story of epic proportions. He has done an enormous amount of research for this book and weaves into this research what could reasonably have been. Through letters and reports, he gives a fair accounting of what happened to the convict fleets from the time they were arrested to the time they landed on this far away island.
This book alternates between sadness and absolute hilarity. The main story centers around a young girl reduced to prostitution to save herself and her two young siblings from starvation and life in an orphanage in London, after losing their mother to madness. It also tells the tale of a young lad who is arrested for stealing back his own family’s livestock.
Things in London in the 1700s were as dismal as could be. Stealing a loaf of bread or a piece of fruit was all it took to end up in Newgate, there to die in jail, or by hanging, or to be transported to the ends of the earth. The young prostitute Mary crosses paths with many others who will end up being transported to colonize Australia. All have, and will endure, more than we can imagine today.
The transport fleets were inhumane and you are in no doubt of the atrocities that the author tells. On the ship that Mary is transported on conditions, while not great, were much better than the others endured. For a teenaged girl, Mary has strength of will that is more than most grown men.
While you know that much of the story is embellished by the author to enhance this book, the base tale is documented and believable.
Mr. Brow’s descriptions of what the convict saw as they traveled are so verdant as to imagine you were there, seeing them for the first time as these tortured souls were. Rio, Cape Town, how exciting and yet at the same time, frightening they would have been. The reporting of the sounds and sights that were discovered in Australia today might be taken for granted, to this group of individuals, it would have been terrifying. Think of hearing a Kookaburra for the first time!
This is a large book but once you get into the story, the pages fly by and before you know it, you are finished but craving more.
Highly recommended!!! This is available online as an eBook, so grab your copy today! Also, as this might be a great Public Library addition, keep checking with your local to see if they have it in stock or might get it in for you.
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