29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating, emotionally powerful, and informative account of the convict maids of Australia,
This review is from: The Tin Ticket: The Heroic Journey of Australia's Convict Women (Hardcover)
Before reading this book, I knew little about Australia's convict past. I had a vague notion that a lot of criminals from England and Ireland travelled to Australia to settle the area under British rule... ergo, the rowdy, "cowboy" spirit of the Australian people. I had no idea that, between the mid 1700's though the mid 1800's, convicts were forcibly exiled to Australia for crimes as minor pilfering stockings or a loaf of bread... or that women and children were among those torn from family and friends and shipped to an untamed land on the other side of the world. Though their sentences ranged from 7 to 10 years (during which they were indentured servants under rigorous government rule), few had the means to return home once they earned their freedom. Thus, in most cases, their exile lasted a lifetime.
What makes Ms. Swiss's book truly remarkable is that, woven into the layers of fascinating, meticulously-researched facts about this dark chapter in history, are the personal stories of 3 women who had the grit, heart, and determination to survive the 4-month voyage across the seas, as well as their long sentences in Australia. Two were street urchins from Glasgow who stole here and there to get by; they were barely out of childhood when they were sentenced and shipped to a government-run female factory in Tasmania. The third was a widow and mother of 4 who stole some spoons and a bread basket after falling on hard times. Their stories are as engrossing; their characters are fully realized. I found that I could not put the book down... I had to learn what was in store for them as they struggled to survive their ordeals and forge their way to freedom.
I came away from the book all the wiser about the true circumstances of the convict maids... and very grateful for the opportunity to get to know the courageous, spirited women who, despite being dealt a cruel hand in life, managed to live productive, happy lives in their new homeland.
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Initial post: Dec 1, 2010 9:12:13 AM PST
V. Harris says:
I agree, it really is a fascinating, provocative story.
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