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Maiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them

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In an engaging and anecdotal social history, Siân Evans's Maiden Voyages explores how women’s lives were transformed by the Golden Age of ocean liner travel between Europe and North America. During the early twentieth century, transatlantic travel was the province of the great ocean liners. It was an extraordinary undertaking made by many women, whose lives were changed for In an engaging and anecdotal social history, Siân Evans's Maiden Voyages explores how women’s lives were transformed by the Golden Age of ocean liner travel between Europe and North America. During the early twentieth century, transatlantic travel was the province of the great ocean liners. It was an extraordinary undertaking made by many women, whose lives were changed forever by their journeys between the Old World and the New. Some traveled for leisure, some for work; others to reinvent themselves or find new opportunities. They were celebrities, migrants and millionaires, refugees, aristocrats and crew members whose stories have mostly remained untold—until now. Maiden Voyages is a fascinating portrait of these women as they crossed the Atlantic. The ocean liner was a microcosm of contemporary society, divided by class: from the luxury of the upper deck, playground for the rich and famous, to the cramped conditions of steerage or third class travel. In first class you’ll meet A-listers like Marlene Dietrich, Wallis Simpson, and Josephine Baker; the second class carried a new generation of professional and independent women, like pioneering interior designer Sibyl Colefax. Down in steerage, you’ll follow the journey of émigré Maria Riffelmacher as she escapes poverty in Europe. Bustling between decks is a crew of female workers, including Violet “The Unsinkable Stewardess” Jessop, who survived the Titanic disaster. Entertaining and informative, Maiden Voyages captures the golden age of ocean liners through the stories of the women whose transatlantic journeys changed the shape of society on both sides of the globe.


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In an engaging and anecdotal social history, Siân Evans's Maiden Voyages explores how women’s lives were transformed by the Golden Age of ocean liner travel between Europe and North America. During the early twentieth century, transatlantic travel was the province of the great ocean liners. It was an extraordinary undertaking made by many women, whose lives were changed for In an engaging and anecdotal social history, Siân Evans's Maiden Voyages explores how women’s lives were transformed by the Golden Age of ocean liner travel between Europe and North America. During the early twentieth century, transatlantic travel was the province of the great ocean liners. It was an extraordinary undertaking made by many women, whose lives were changed forever by their journeys between the Old World and the New. Some traveled for leisure, some for work; others to reinvent themselves or find new opportunities. They were celebrities, migrants and millionaires, refugees, aristocrats and crew members whose stories have mostly remained untold—until now. Maiden Voyages is a fascinating portrait of these women as they crossed the Atlantic. The ocean liner was a microcosm of contemporary society, divided by class: from the luxury of the upper deck, playground for the rich and famous, to the cramped conditions of steerage or third class travel. In first class you’ll meet A-listers like Marlene Dietrich, Wallis Simpson, and Josephine Baker; the second class carried a new generation of professional and independent women, like pioneering interior designer Sibyl Colefax. Down in steerage, you’ll follow the journey of émigré Maria Riffelmacher as she escapes poverty in Europe. Bustling between decks is a crew of female workers, including Violet “The Unsinkable Stewardess” Jessop, who survived the Titanic disaster. Entertaining and informative, Maiden Voyages captures the golden age of ocean liners through the stories of the women whose transatlantic journeys changed the shape of society on both sides of the globe.

30 review for Maiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them

  1. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    This non-fiction begins with the history of ships and the history of male dominated crew changing over time. As more and more female passengers were making voyages, the need for female crew grew. At first, I wasn’t sure why I was reading about ships instead of strong female characters, but later you realize that it’s the background for this story. I just wished the focus of ship history was straight-forward without naming all other famous ships and what was happening with them. Then it brings the This non-fiction begins with the history of ships and the history of male dominated crew changing over time. As more and more female passengers were making voyages, the need for female crew grew. At first, I wasn’t sure why I was reading about ships instead of strong female characters, but later you realize that it’s the background for this story. I just wished the focus of ship history was straight-forward without naming all other famous ships and what was happening with them. Then it brings the stories of different women from different backgrounds. Some traveled for leisure, some as crew, some to reinvent themselves on the other side of Atlantic. With it, came different class levels on the ship. The life for elite was very glamorous with all the opulence on the upper level. And the life on the lower level was cramped as it is explained that those passengers usually made only one way voyage for a better life on the other side of Atlantic and of course they couldn’t afford anything better. The parts that caught my attention were of the women who worked on the ship and what their responsibilities were, and about women who came from central and Eastern Europe and traveled in third-class. However, I found most of it unnecessarily descriptive. Overall, this non-fiction needs better focus. The style of writing is descriptive for me, but I know that others may feel differently, the ones who enjoy in depth writing. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    That was a Great Book! I have just read Maiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them, by Siân Evans. It is refreshing to read a book that is both interesting and intriguing, plus has a topic that is unique. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. It has so many interesting facts, figures, and tidbits. I had no idea about the impact that women had on this topic. There was a great deal of research put into the writing of this book, and so many details about so ma That was a Great Book! I have just read Maiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them, by Siân Evans. It is refreshing to read a book that is both interesting and intriguing, plus has a topic that is unique. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. It has so many interesting facts, figures, and tidbits. I had no idea about the impact that women had on this topic. There was a great deal of research put into the writing of this book, and so many details about so many people – both male and female. Thank you to NetGalley, Author Siân Evans, and St. Martin's Press for my advanced copy to read and review. #MaidenVoyages #NetGalley

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I listened to this and liked Jilly Bond as the narrator. She did a great job. Maiden Voyages is a book about ships and women and so much more. The author discusses women throughout many years and their roles on a ship. Much of the history shared is about an event and or person on a ship. It was filled with fascinating information and facts with some very surprising outcomes. Each ship felt like a historical tour with all the description of a virtual tour at Biltmore. I enjoyed following the surv I listened to this and liked Jilly Bond as the narrator. She did a great job. Maiden Voyages is a book about ships and women and so much more. The author discusses women throughout many years and their roles on a ship. Much of the history shared is about an event and or person on a ship. It was filled with fascinating information and facts with some very surprising outcomes. Each ship felt like a historical tour with all the description of a virtual tour at Biltmore. I enjoyed following the survivors of the sinking ships. I can imagine what that felt like. And I had no idea there were so many things for women to do on a ship. I highly recommend if you love history. Thanks to Macmillan Audio, St Martins Press via Netgalley.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    A marvelous and unique social history focused on woman passengers and workers who sailed the seas during ocean liners’ golden age. Well-researched and written, with a keen look at how such travel forever altered women’s lives. Highly recommended! 4 of 5 Stars Pub Date 10 Aug 2021 #MaidenVoyages #NetGalley Thanks to the author, St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. A marvelous and unique social history focused on woman passengers and workers who sailed the seas during ocean liners’ golden age. Well-researched and written, with a keen look at how such travel forever altered women’s lives. Highly recommended! 4 of 5 Stars Pub Date 10 Aug 2021 #MaidenVoyages #NetGalley Thanks to the author, St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    This is a review of the audiobook, received for free from Macmillan Audio. This was an interesting nonfiction audiobook about the early luxury oceanliners and the women who worked on them. It was full of information, but a bit monotone at times. However, the stories about the women aboard the Titanic and Lusitania were fascinating. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    All these people giving it 1 or 2 stars...have you actually read the book??? ************************************************************************** Date reviewed/posted: November 8, 2020 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is once again closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have All these people giving it 1 or 2 stars...have you actually read the book??? ************************************************************************** Date reviewed/posted: November 8, 2020 When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is once again closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. HOW THE GOLDEN AGE OF TRANSATLANTIC TRAVEL BETWEEN THE WARS TRANSFORMED WOMEN'S LIVES ACROSS ALL CLASSES - A VIVID CROSS-SECTION OF LIFE ON-BOARD THE ICONIC OCEAN LINERS FROM BELOW DECKS TO THE CAPTAIN'S TABLE. 'In this riveting slice of social history, Siân Evans does a brilliant job of describing the unexpected textures of life at sea...By deep-diving into the archives, Siân Evans has discovered a watery in-between world where the usual rules didn't quite apply and a spirited woman could get further than she ever would on dry land. - Mail on Sunday Migrants and millionairesses, refugees and aristocrats all looking for a way to improve their lives. After WW1 a world of opportunity was opening up for women ... Before convenient air travel, transatlantic travel was the province of the great ocean liners and never more so than in the glory days of the interwar years. It was an extraordinary undertaking made by many women. Some travelled for leisure, some for work; others to find a new life, marriage, to reinvent themselves or find new opportunities. Their stories have remained largely untold - until now. Maiden Voyages is a fascinating portrait of these women and their lives on board magnificent ocean liners as they sailed between the old and the new worlds. The ocean liner was a microcosm of contemporary society, divided by class: from the luxury of the upper deck, playground for the rich and famous, to the cramped conditions of steerage or third class travel. These iconic ocean liners were filled with women of all ages, classes and backgrounds: celebrities and refugees, migrants and millionairesses, aristocrats and crew members. Full of incredible gossip, stories and intrigue, Maiden Voyages has a diverse cast of inspiring women - from A-listers like Josephine Baker, a dancer from St Louis who found fame in Paris, Marlene Dietrich and Wallis Simpson, Violet 'the unsinkable' Jessop, a crew member who survived the sinking of the Titanic, and entrepreneur Sibyl Colefax, a pioneering interior designer. Whichever direction they were travelling, whatever hopes they entertained, they were all under the spell of life at sea, a spell which would only break when they went ashore. Maiden Voyages is a compelling and highly entertaining account of life on board: part dream factory, part place of work, independence and escape - always moving. Always Moving????? lolololol.... #Idigress #tangentqueen I really enjoy social history books and this one was right up my alley: full of women I had heard of, and some I had not. The book was excellently researched and never dry - the women ran the gamut of dirt poor to fascinatingly rich but they were all worthy of being written about. I am going to recommend this book to friends, patrons and book clubs alike as it will appeal to so many people. An EXCELLENT BOOK that now has Cora's infamous "It's a ship, daddy, it's a ship!" in my head ... guess I will need to rewatch Titanic for the 700thx this afternoon!!! As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🛳 🛳 🛳 🛳 🛳

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Gorecki

    This was a DNF for me. I initially accepted the invitation to read this book because I love learning about women in history and how they have done much to begin to pave the way for my generation and my daughters' generations and beyond. There are so many limitations that generations past faced that we don't face today, and the stories of great courage are inspiring. That being said, I thought that was what this book was about - stories of various women and what they did on ships and the barriers This was a DNF for me. I initially accepted the invitation to read this book because I love learning about women in history and how they have done much to begin to pave the way for my generation and my daughters' generations and beyond. There are so many limitations that generations past faced that we don't face today, and the stories of great courage are inspiring. That being said, I thought that was what this book was about - stories of various women and what they did on ships and the barriers they broke. However, if it was, I couldn't get to that point because I just lost interest quickly.... The first couple chapters were so very repetitive, using the same phrases multiple times, the same scenarios, the same experiences or points of view multiple times, paragraphs repeating over and over the responsibilities of the women, etc. It just was not necessary and was as if the author was trying to convince you of what they were explaining. The other reason I did not finish it was the enormous detail. Some detail obviously is good and needed, but this detail did not make or break the story. It was about the ships, the crew, how the male crew treated or responded to women (which was again very repetitive), the loss with the Titanic, the scandal of the day, the details of various ship occupations, the number of passengers in each class, etc. So. Much. Detail. While a bit paints the story, too much drowns it. I didn't need to know all that to such a finite point and completely lost interest in the mountains of detail. Ultimately, the advertised reasons for me to agree to read this book - it being for those who loved Downton Abbey or being "riveting" were sadly not my experience in the least. I wish I could have gotten past the above to finish it but it just became work to continue. Thanks to NetGalley for the invitation and advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kimba Tichenor

    A highly entertaining and informative social history of the women who worked and traveled on board ocean liners during the golden age of transatlantic travel. Through a series of biographical sketches covering women of all classes, the author shows how ocean travel, particularly between the two World Wars, afforded women a level of independence that they often could not attain on land. Readers are introduced to, among others, the “unsinkable” Violet Jessup, a stewardess who survived the sinking A highly entertaining and informative social history of the women who worked and traveled on board ocean liners during the golden age of transatlantic travel. Through a series of biographical sketches covering women of all classes, the author shows how ocean travel, particularly between the two World Wars, afforded women a level of independence that they often could not attain on land. Readers are introduced to, among others, the “unsinkable” Violet Jessup, a stewardess who survived the sinking of the Orinoco, the Titanic, and the Britannic; Victoria Drummond, a ship’s engineer during World War II; Edith Sowerbutts, a conductress for unaccompanied women and children resettling in Canada, Hilda James, a champion swimmer who escaped a physically abusive family situation by becoming a swim instructor for Cunard Lines, and Thelma Furness, Gloria Vanderbilt’s twin sister and the longstanding mistress of the Price of Wales. Her sea-borne love affair with Aly Khan led Edward VIII to find a new mistress, Wallis Simpson for whom he would abdicate the throne. In addition to showing how sea voyages altered the lives of women who worked and traveled on the ocean liners, the author also highlights how the tumultuous events and seismic changes of this era altered sea travel. For example, the sinking of the Titanic led to a new focus on ship safety. Too woo back reluctant travelers, the industry added more lifeboats to existing ships and changed the structural design of new vessels. Modifications to the structural design of the Aquitania, which was already under construction when the Titanic sank in 1912, included a double hull and watertight compartments so that a collision was less likely to sink the ship. The growing number of women taking to the sea also transformed ship design. In 1874, Cunard introduced the first lounge exclusively for women and in 1929, Elsie MacKay, the third daughter of Lord Inchcape—the chairman of the steamship line P & O—was appointed to oversee the interior design of twelve of the company’s liners. The revamped ships included modern conveniences such as passenger lifts, electric radiators, and air ventilation, as well as furnishings inspired by various periods in British history. Similarly, the public spaces and staterooms of the Aquitania were specifically designed to please women—so much so that it was labeled “the Ladies Ship.” Of course, this level of luxury did not extend to those traveling in third class. Cabin accommodations for these passengers were on the lower decks and initially consisted of a windowless cell containing two rows of upper and lower bunks, separated by a toilet seat placed over a bucket. Yet, by the early twentieth century, many liners began introducing improvements here too, prompted by new business possibilities. War also transformed the liners; ships, such as the Aquitania and the Queen Mary, were transformed into troop carriers and/or hospital ships. Many of these repurposed passenger ships did not survive the wars, prompting a postwar boom in ship building that incorporated new technologies developed during the two world wars. The author also tells of the many Jews in the wake of Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 who sought escape from persecution and death through transatlantic travel. One such traveler was the Viennese-born actor and inventor Hedy Lamarr (Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler). Lamarr became a Hollywood sensation in the 1930s and was the co-inventor of an early version of the frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication, originally intended for torpedo guidance. Through the eyes of Edith Sowerbutts, the reader also experiences the ill-fated voyage of the City of Benares. The ship had been charged with transporting children from London to Canada; it was thought that they would be safer there. However, on its fourth day at sea, it was torpedoed by a German U-boat; most of the children did not survive. Yet despite the many stories of the two world wars and of how Prohibition in the United States impacted foreign liners, there is one noticeable gap in the narrative. We hear little or nothing about the “Spanish flu” pandemic. Yet, without doubt, it was ocean-going vessels that contributed to the spread of this disease. Thus, it is rather surprising that this story goes uncommented on. Perhaps, this silence reflects a silence in the primary documents that the author consulted. The book is based largely on English-language sources, and both the US and British government were keen to suppress stories that they perceived as a threat to the public morale; this included news of the pandemic. In Britain, Sir Arthur Newsholme, chief medical officer of the British Local Government Board went so far as to suggest it was unpatriotic to express concern about the flu, rather than the war, and the 1918 Sedition Act had a similar effect on reporting about the flu in the United States. Yet, this oversight does not detract seriously from the narrative. Of more concern is the author’s focus on the “life-affirming” dimension of sea travel. Although she notes the back-breaking labor that women performed on ships, their substandard wages compared to that of their male colleagues, the threat that sea travel posed to their on-land reputations, and the dangers (from storms to abusive male co-workers), her decision to focus almost exclusively on the success stories, that is, women whose lives largely were transformed for the better by their experiences at sea, results in a somewhat lopsided narrative of how transatlantic travel impacted women’s lives. We hear only briefly of the women who gave up everything for a ticket to the new world only to have their hopes dashed at Ellis Island. We hear nothing of the lives of the single women who disembarked from ships with high hopes only to be pushed into prostitution. Without these stories to counterbalance the success stories, the picture painted is likely too optimistic. Still, this book is well worth reading, as it gives the reader a glimpse into a bygone age of transatlantic travel and the women who benefited from it. I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for an advance copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    This book is a history geek's dream! The detailed research through archives and personal records and correspondence of some of the women who worked as stewardesses and more for the Cunard and White Star lines is beyond impressive. As advertised, there are many stories of individual women who needed to go to sea to support those at home, including one woman who served on the Titanic, Lusitania, and another torpedoed ship! There are selected notes about well known women of the era between the war This book is a history geek's dream! The detailed research through archives and personal records and correspondence of some of the women who worked as stewardesses and more for the Cunard and White Star lines is beyond impressive. As advertised, there are many stories of individual women who needed to go to sea to support those at home, including one woman who served on the Titanic, Lusitania, and another torpedoed ship! There are selected notes about well known women of the era between the wars such as Josephine Baker and Nancy Astor and mentions of film stars Rudolph Valentino, Johnny Weissmuller, and Douglas Fairbanks. Luxury shipping is detailed from the beginning of the 20th century. These same ships and many of the women were also in service during each of the world wars, including the ill fated Kindertransports. It is interesting to note that the Queen Mary was not only the best in luxury, but as of 1927 had a Jewish prayer room and also a rabbi to keep kosher in the kitchen. Another geeky tidbit is that the Aquitania made 580 crossings in 40 years and was the only Trans Atlantic liner to have served in both world wars putting on 3 million miles and transporting 1.2 million passengers. Fantastic book for geeks like me! I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. Thank you!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Enjoyable and educational. Well-researched history of both the transatlantic voyage and the women who were necessary for such journeys. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    A competent account of the Golden Age of ocean liners and the women who worked and traveled on them. This is a satisfactorily researched account of the subject, though I was expecting at least some new information and more sophisticated writing. If you don’t read much nonfiction or aren’t at all familiar with the subject, this book will probably be more appealing to you than it was for me. Evans has correctly and competently researched and organized the information, but there’s nothing close to o A competent account of the Golden Age of ocean liners and the women who worked and traveled on them. This is a satisfactorily researched account of the subject, though I was expecting at least some new information and more sophisticated writing. If you don’t read much nonfiction or aren’t at all familiar with the subject, this book will probably be more appealing to you than it was for me. Evans has correctly and competently researched and organized the information, but there’s nothing close to original research here. If you read up on this subject (even historical fiction that focuses on it), you’ve heard most of this before. The highlight for those already aware of the subject becomes the anecdotal stories, which help liven up the book and at least provided a handful of new-to-me content. The writing is also competent but fairly unsophisticated and while it flows well in parts the way narrative nonfiction should (mostly during the anecdotal portions of the text), it’s clunky and oversimplified in others. This is a decent overview if you’re completely new to the time period and topic, but this is too simplistically written and thin on unique content for your typical Historical Nonfiction reader. *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

  12. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    When I was a child my family took a TransAtlantic cruise from New York to Europe aboard one of the old ocean liners of the American Export Lines, the SS Independence. (Her identical sister ship is the co-star of the Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr 1957 film "An Affair To Remember" but I digress.) I fell in love with cruising then, thus my interest in this social history of the old glamour days of ocean travel (pre airlines) and the emphasis here on women both as passengers and crew aboard these vessels. When I was a child my family took a TransAtlantic cruise from New York to Europe aboard one of the old ocean liners of the American Export Lines, the SS Independence. (Her identical sister ship is the co-star of the Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr 1957 film "An Affair To Remember" but I digress.) I fell in love with cruising then, thus my interest in this social history of the old glamour days of ocean travel (pre airlines) and the emphasis here on women both as passengers and crew aboard these vessels. The title is truth in advertising; it is about both the "Ocean Liners" and the "Women" but I found myself wishing it had just focused on the later. The first part of the book dragged a bit for me as it reviewed the history of the ships in some detail. The book takes a turn for the better when it centers on some very remarkable women, especially some who served during both World Wars, their struggles and heroism made for really interesting reading. You'll recognize a few famous names, but perhaps learn something new about them that you might not have known prior i.e. film star Hedy Lamarr's alternative role as an accomplished inventor, or the Scottish teenager who arrived in NYC with just $50 in her pocket seeking work as a domestic servant. She becomes the mother of a future US president (warning: personal political comment ahead - I wish she had practiced birth control.) The chapter about the Prince of Wales who abdicates the throne is particularly fun, who knew an ocean cruise would affect the British monarchy so momentously? If you have an interest in the subject matter, you'll enjoy this. My only wish is that the focused been entirely on the women, but, by giving more insight into the ocean liners themselves, you do get more context. Bon Voyage!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Michelle

    This is a very good book, though there is not a lot about the women that sailed and a LOT about the ships, the trips themselves, and the wars the ships and travelers were in. The parts that WERE about women and how they worked and sailed on these ships was both interesting and captivating [I found myself wanting to go sailing myself, and then reminded myself that I don't LIKE sailing. LOL] and really makes you admire the women that did the work that they did, from stewardesses, guides, and then This is a very good book, though there is not a lot about the women that sailed and a LOT about the ships, the trips themselves, and the wars the ships and travelers were in. The parts that WERE about women and how they worked and sailed on these ships was both interesting and captivating [I found myself wanting to go sailing myself, and then reminded myself that I don't LIKE sailing. LOL] and really makes you admire the women that did the work that they did, from stewardesses, guides, and then in the war, nurses, matrons, WRENS, and the like. They worked just as hard [if not harder in some instances] as the men and are quite often overlooked, which is close to criminal to me. They deserved [and continue to deserve] so much more. The parts about the war will break your heart and if you don't tear up and feel the feels when they are talking about the bombing of passenger ships that carried children to Canada, then you need to check yourself. It was all I could do to finish that part of the book. Very well done. Thank you to NetGalley, Sian Evans, and St. Martin's Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. **NOTE** I was also granted an audiobook from NetGalley for this book. This narrator was excellent for the most part [she should try and NOT do voices, especially male ones as those didn't quite meet the mark]. For the most part, the narration was very good, very crisp and articulate, and the narrator being British really added to the book and I was glad to have the audiobook version as well. Thank you to NetGalley, Jilly Bond - Narrator, and Macmillian Audio for providing the Audiobook ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate: The Quick and the Read

    I loved this book so much. I wasn’t planning on writing a review for it right away, but I couldn’t wait to shout about it! This book is about ‘Women and the Golden Age of Transatlantic Travel’ (as the subtitle says) – this covers a fairly short span of actual time in which a huge amount happened. It opens with Violet Jessop (more about her later) joining her first ship as a stewardess in 1908 and ends with transatlantic ocean crossings being overtaken by air travel in the late 1950s. Only fifty ye I loved this book so much. I wasn’t planning on writing a review for it right away, but I couldn’t wait to shout about it! This book is about ‘Women and the Golden Age of Transatlantic Travel’ (as the subtitle says) – this covers a fairly short span of actual time in which a huge amount happened. It opens with Violet Jessop (more about her later) joining her first ship as a stewardess in 1908 and ends with transatlantic ocean crossings being overtaken by air travel in the late 1950s. Only fifty years, but a period encompassing the end of the Edwardian era, World War I, the interwar years, World War II and its aftermath. And – wow – how the world changed in that time! I’ll admit, I was drawn to this book as I was hoping for stories of glitz and glamour – having seen the excellent ‘Ocean Liners’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum a few years ago, I wanted to read more about the people who travelled in such style and opulence. It absolutely covers that. However, this book is also so much more. What I loved is that it is the story of women of all ages, classes and backgrounds who chose – for various reasons – to travel by sea. Some, like Violet Jessop, worked aboard the ocean liners in order to support families back home. Others travelled on the ships to new lives in America, escaping the Old World and (in some cases) persecution before World War II or joining their GI husbands after the war. Luckier women, the wealthy and famous, relied on the ‘Atlantic Ferry’ for leisure or work purposes. A common theme though was the importance of the transatlantic crossing in the women’s lives. It would be hard to pick favourite bits from the huge range of material that Evans has squeezed into this book – I found myself being carried along with the narrative as Evans moved seamlessly between people’s lives, great ships, historical context and some great stories. I did love the story of the ‘Unsinkable’ Violet Jessop who managed to survive the sinking of Titanic and her sister ship, Britannic. She was also on board a third ship that was in a massive collision. Her fortitude and courage in the way she kept returning to sea was amazing, especially when she was made redundant by she shipping company at the start of World War I but retrained as a nurse to join a hospital ship in the Aegean Sea. An amazing woman – but one that I would have worried about sharing a ship with given the fates of her previous ones! Including Violet, this book is packed with amazing women who survived all kinds of hardships and who led fascinating lives. Although the conditions were often tough on the transatlantic route – for reasons of inhospitable weather or the treacherous conditions of war – these women continued to travel, work and live on board the ships. In short, I came to this book for the glamour of the ocean liner, but stayed for the immersive accounts of real women whose lives were connected by the need to cross the Atlantic. Indeed, the stories of bravery, determination and grit are staying with me now the book is finished. I’d wholeheartedly recommend the hardback version of this book (before the paperback is due for publication in June) – it has two sections of photographs that allow you to put faces to some of the women in the book, plus see some shipboard scenes. This is a glorious book and worth every penny I paid!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    MAIDEN VOYAGES A glamorous fur and bejeweled movie star making an elegant entrance down a grand mirrored staircase. A stowaway hidden on a munitions ship traveling to England during the war. An Olympian sailing to America to escape from an abusive family. This book was terrific. Maiden Voyages tells of women’s roles in ocean liner travel, mainly during the heyday of the early 20th century. The author, who’s great great uncle was a Cunard Chief Officer, has a wonderful way of sharing the dreams and MAIDEN VOYAGES A glamorous fur and bejeweled movie star making an elegant entrance down a grand mirrored staircase. A stowaway hidden on a munitions ship traveling to England during the war. An Olympian sailing to America to escape from an abusive family. This book was terrific. Maiden Voyages tells of women’s roles in ocean liner travel, mainly during the heyday of the early 20th century. The author, who’s great great uncle was a Cunard Chief Officer, has a wonderful way of sharing the dreams and fears and excitement of each of these women in their endeavors aboard these magnificent ships. I loved the strength and courage of the women of various ages and social status who took such brave leaps of faith into their future. Before airplanes, these huge ships were the link between the old world of Europe and the new world of America. This book examines why women traveled; for work, pleasure, immigration, escape, professional ambitions, social ambitions, and to find potential mates. It also takes a look at the variety of positions women held on these ships from maids, hairdressers, swimming instructors, chaperones, housekeepers, cleaning and laundry staff, stewardesses, physiotherapists, masseuses, typists, and to eventually serving as pursers, officers, and captains. The book also focused on the various roles women played during WWI and WWII both on the ships and within the shipping industry on land. Nursing and war reporting were highly valued skills during this time. Personal stories included those of Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Hedy Lamarr, Edith Sowerbutts, and Mary Anne MacLeod. A great deal of research went into the writing of this book and there are pictures and extensive notes and references. I would like to thank NetGalley, Siân Evans, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review this book. I highly recommend it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    This book caught my attention because of the history of women in ocean travel during a time when most women were relegated to the home. The author did tremendous research, and the only true way to convey the odds these women were up against, the personal strength and free spirit required to do what they chose to do, is to go into great detail. At first, I was tempted to blur through some paragraphs, but I made myself slow down and appreciate the facts. From maids who took care of the passengers t This book caught my attention because of the history of women in ocean travel during a time when most women were relegated to the home. The author did tremendous research, and the only true way to convey the odds these women were up against, the personal strength and free spirit required to do what they chose to do, is to go into great detail. At first, I was tempted to blur through some paragraphs, but I made myself slow down and appreciate the facts. From maids who took care of the passengers to famous actresses, political figures, and millionaires, the effect that ocean liner travel had on their lives was indisputable. Hedy Lamarr, for instance: she had an amazing career and interesting life, but I chuckled as I read her planning how to make the most of her time on the ship with a captive audience. Her plan worked, and she is a familiar name today because of this one small brilliant scheme. There are numerous tidbits of facts about the travelers, the workers, the people in the background that made ocean liner travel such a colorful and illustrious way of life. I would have loved to enter these stories, sail along, enjoy the food, music, laughter, and entertainment. There were tragedies, and Ms. Evans doesn’t shy away from the facts and bottom line of these tragic episodes of history. There are people in her book that survived numerous sinkings, (nicknamed the well-deserved moniker “Unsinkable '') and there are people whose life was tragically cut short. Ms. Evans goes into detail about the mode of travel for each level of passenger, from the rich in their extravagant stateroom down to the poorest, and I mean literally down in the hull of the ship for a nauseating, unsanitary, and horribly dangerous, but inexpensive way to cross the ocean. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but at times found it a bit sluggish. The author is obviously a very intelligent person and wishes to convey the facts in their entirety when there were times I wanted to get on to the next chapter. Sincere thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The publishing date was August 10, 2021.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    I received a digital advance review copy, provided by the publisher via Netgalley. In this social history, Sian Evans describes women on the sea from the 19th century until the 1970s, when air travel made sea travel something largely reserved for cruises. Her chief focus is travel between England and the US. She provides many details of the ships themselves, particularly those of the Cunard line, but her eye is always on the women. As women became ship passengers, it was necessary to hire women to I received a digital advance review copy, provided by the publisher via Netgalley. In this social history, Sian Evans describes women on the sea from the 19th century until the 1970s, when air travel made sea travel something largely reserved for cruises. Her chief focus is travel between England and the US. She provides many details of the ships themselves, particularly those of the Cunard line, but her eye is always on the women. As women became ship passengers, it was necessary to hire women to provide services to those passengers. Many stewardesses were widows of liner employees, providing much-needed funds to support their families. Some of these women survived multiple ship sinkings, returning to service out of necessity or because the sea had become irresistible. My favorite parts of the book were the 1920s, when ship travel became glamorous, and during World War II, when liners were converted to war use. There were so many stories about World War II, from refugees traveling, including the soon-to-be movie star Hedy Lamarr, to war correspondents like Martha Gellhorn, to war brides. One particular riveting story is that of Victoria Drummond, one of the first ship’s engineers, during a lengthy attack by Germans on her British vessel. She sent the rest of the crew topside, where they were more likely to survive if the ship was sunk, while she stayed below, doing everything possible to get more speed out of the ship so that the captain could evade being sunk. This is an entertaining look at a phenomenon that lasted only about a century, but is filled with adventure.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Toni Osborne

    Women and the Golden Age of Transatlantic Travel This interesting book chronicles the transatlantic ocean travel in the first half of the 20th century and focuses mainly on the female passengers and crew members who traveled or worked aboard ocean Liners: Edith Sowebutts and Violet Jessop just to name two. Most of us will remember the famous liners such as the Titanic, the Queen Mary and the Britannic, but the book doesn’t stop with these three. On board often seen where the rich and famous who t Women and the Golden Age of Transatlantic Travel This interesting book chronicles the transatlantic ocean travel in the first half of the 20th century and focuses mainly on the female passengers and crew members who traveled or worked aboard ocean Liners: Edith Sowebutts and Violet Jessop just to name two. Most of us will remember the famous liners such as the Titanic, the Queen Mary and the Britannic, but the book doesn’t stop with these three. On board often seen where the rich and famous who travelled in first class, Marlene Dietrich, the Prince of Wales, Mrs. Simpson and many others often boarded these luxurious ships to travel back and forth from Europe to the Americas. In the earlier years, those famous liners gave widows the needed jobs in order for them to care for their family, thousands of emigrants escaped poverty in 1930 for a better life in Canada and the USA. After the war, war brides wanted to join their husband were also passengers......etc..... Most of all, this true account is of women who pierced the gender barriers and worked as “conductress, stewardess or nurse” and made a career that lasted decades, in fact, opening the doors for future generation. Reading “Maiden Voyage” added pieces to the puzzle of all the books I read of this era. Fifty years a period from the end of the Edwardian era, WW1, the interwar years, WW11 and its aftermath. The author gives us a huge range of information vividly said with colour and drama. I love the story of the “Unsinkable” Violet Jessop who survived the sinking of the Titanic, what an amazing woman. I admit the first few chapters left me indifferent but I soon changed my mind as it moved along the story became such an interesting account I couldn’t put it aside and continuously gave my husband a wrap up of what I had read (I rarely do this). Although, I would have preferred the author to have stayed on track with the lives of the women who staffed the ocean liners instead of covering panoply of subjects, I think it would have made an easier read. Nevertheless I enjoyed passing time with “Maiden Voyages”: a well-research account and one skillfully written. Well said, well-done. I wish to thank St-Martin Press and Netgalleys for the opportunity to read and review this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dee Arr

    Rather than another history book focusing on an industry, author Sian Evans chose to dig deeper and craft a story about women and their contributions to maritime history. My personal knowledge was limited, possessing only a modest amount of details concerning – what else? – the Titanic. This book opened a whole new world of facts. The book naturally includes many of the points of interest concerning the ocean liners who sailed the Atlantic, so readers are educated on the overall history while inf Rather than another history book focusing on an industry, author Sian Evans chose to dig deeper and craft a story about women and their contributions to maritime history. My personal knowledge was limited, possessing only a modest amount of details concerning – what else? – the Titanic. This book opened a whole new world of facts. The book naturally includes many of the points of interest concerning the ocean liners who sailed the Atlantic, so readers are educated on the overall history while informing us on how women fit in and, in some cases, changed the history to include them. As you might suspect, females were not welcomed with open arms. This was a man’s industry, and it took a while for women to earn a grudging respect for what they were allowed to do. Some women continued to push back, and their stories are included. “Maiden Voyages” not only talks about the women that worked in these large ships. There were many reasons why people chose to travel from Europe to America and vice versa, and for a golden period of time, this was the only way to bridge the difference between continents. The rich, the entertainers, the card cheats and blackmailers, they are all here and their stories are shared. I found the book extremely entertaining as well as enlightening. The author doesn’t focus on facts and figures, but targets the stories of those people who participated in this niche in history. Five stars. My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a complimentary electronic copy of this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Rounded up from 3.5. With the title of Maiden Voyages I was expecting more about women and their voyages. Instead it was more of a history of ships, their magnificence, the passengers and the women who worked aboard. In some cases a passenger might have taken one voyage, emigrating to America, and then something significant happened here. I don't think the ship should take credit for her fate/destiny, it was just a mode of travel. I wished there was more about Violet Jessop who survived the Tita Rounded up from 3.5. With the title of Maiden Voyages I was expecting more about women and their voyages. Instead it was more of a history of ships, their magnificence, the passengers and the women who worked aboard. In some cases a passenger might have taken one voyage, emigrating to America, and then something significant happened here. I don't think the ship should take credit for her fate/destiny, it was just a mode of travel. I wished there was more about Violet Jessop who survived the Titanic or Edith Sowerbutts, both women who were stewardesses on various ocean liners for years. With all that being said I did find the history interesting and would recommend it to anyone interested in non-fiction of this type. I would like to thank Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a copy of this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    I loved reading about the history of ship travel and seeing how it evolved from it's heyday to it's competition with the airlines in later years. All through this history, we learn about the women who were so important to making these trips run smoothly but also the women who came aboard to make their way in the world. This book is peppered with stories of brave women but also a wonderful look into the history of the industry we know today as the cruise ship. A very enjoyable, informative read. I loved reading about the history of ship travel and seeing how it evolved from it's heyday to it's competition with the airlines in later years. All through this history, we learn about the women who were so important to making these trips run smoothly but also the women who came aboard to make their way in the world. This book is peppered with stories of brave women but also a wonderful look into the history of the industry we know today as the cruise ship. A very enjoyable, informative read. Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I received an ARC of this one based on my interests and honestly, so worth it. Learning about the women who made transatlantic journeys on ocean liners was really interesting. I received an ecopy of this book through Netgalley; however, my opinions are my own

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carol Macarthur

    Sian Evans' nonfictional work documents the lives and careers of women connected to early Twentieth Century Ocean Liners. The documentation is epic. As the great vessels are transformed from pleasure palaces to war ships and back again, the lives and career of these women change. This is a history of how the "big ships" propelled women's independence, creating careers for them, saving families, and raising some of them to celebrity status! Sian Evans' nonfictional work documents the lives and careers of women connected to early Twentieth Century Ocean Liners. The documentation is epic. As the great vessels are transformed from pleasure palaces to war ships and back again, the lives and career of these women change. This is a history of how the "big ships" propelled women's independence, creating careers for them, saving families, and raising some of them to celebrity status!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bev Walkling

    I was approached by an employee of St. Martin’s Press to see if I would consider reading this non-fiction book about women who went to sea in what was considered the “golden age of ocean liners”. It was described as being a book that would appeal to fans of Downton Abbey. I have to confess that I have never watched a single episode of that show. I might love it but the prospect of so many seasons to watch has been intimidating. This request to read did however, come at an opportune time in that I was approached by an employee of St. Martin’s Press to see if I would consider reading this non-fiction book about women who went to sea in what was considered the “golden age of ocean liners”. It was described as being a book that would appeal to fans of Downton Abbey. I have to confess that I have never watched a single episode of that show. I might love it but the prospect of so many seasons to watch has been intimidating. This request to read did however, come at an opportune time in that I had just finished reading one book about the sinking of the Lusitania and was in the process of reading Eric Larson’s book Dead Wake on the same. Not only that, but my great grandfather was a Chief Steward with the White Star Line. He even worked under the captain of the Titanic, and I have over twenty years of his ship records as well as letters and photographs that belonged to him so I felt that this book could well be of interest to me. It was not a book that I felt had to be read quickly in one sitting but rather to enjoy more slowly as I learned about individual characters. It contains a lot of information about different women who had varying motivations for going to sea. For many, the motivating factor was the death of a husband who had been a seafaring man. Fortunately, the various companies were willing to hire these widows so that they could continue to provide for their families. The author clearly did extensive research on how these companies functioned and what were the roles available to women from the turn of the century (1900) on until the postwar period when airplanes began to take over the transportation of people for business and for pleasure. It was fascinating to read about these women, some of whom were hired as early as age 16 to work as chambermaids or conductresses who would help supervise those who were emigrating, many of whom were third class travelers. The pay was reasonable but if you worked with third class, tips were not something that would often come your way whereas those who worked with first or second class travelers could count on them to add to their earnings. I particularly appreciated learning more about the job descriptions and chain of command on the ocean liners as I felt it gave me a better understanding of what life would have been like for my great grandfather. I know that I had family members who travelled quite a number of times back and forth between Liverpool and Montreal. I have always wondered how they afforded this, and whether there were perks for family members of those who were high ranking officers. Sadly, this was not information covered in this book. I have a fascination with war-time history and was not disappointed in the depth of coverage that was given to this time period throughout the book. While for some of the women it meant a temporary end to their seafaring days, for others it meant coming back as a nurse or working in some other capacity. There were some heartbreaking stories told of the impact this had on lives. One such woman was Violet Jessop, a woman of Irish descent who first went to sea when her mother became ill and could no longer go to sea. She worked as a stewardess and later as a nurse. During her lengthy career she became known as “The Unsinkable Stewardess” because she survived three different sinkings including the Titanic and later the Britannic which is believed to have hit a mine in wartime. Edith Sowerbutts was another fascinating woman who had a lengthy career. Part of her early work as a conductress included trying to make sure that unsuspecting women were not being trafficked for sexual purposes. The parts of the book that I enjoyed the most were the stories of the women who took up the call to go to sea and made careers out of it. They were not, however, the only women who went to sea. One storyline that particularly caught my attention was the story of Mary MacLeod who emigrated to the USA. She came from the Isle of Lewis and her story began with a description of a sea disaster that very few people in North America have ever heard of. It is the story of the Iolaire disaster when due to large numbers of soldiers returning from the Great War, an extra ship was needed to take the men back to the Isle of Lewis on New Year’s eve. This was never an easy crossing and for sailors unfamiliar with the area in it was a recipe for disaster. It is also a story of personal significance to me because my great uncle wrote of how the island was affected by this disaster in his memoirs – “Outside the Isle-of-Lewis there are few people who will now remember the Iolaire disaster. On the afternoon of 31st December 1918 over 500 naval leave men, in addition to soldiers and civilians, were waiting at Kyle of Lochalsh for the steamer to Stornoway. The number was far beyond the capacity of the Sheila, and admirality yacht Iolaire was detailed to take the excess. It took on 260 naval leave men in addition to its own crew of 23. The crossing is about seventy miles and usually took the mail steamer about six hours. It was a dark night with flurries of rain, but the visibility was not exceptionally bad. The fairly strong wind was from the south and so mainly astern, but the crossing was good. The lights of the lighthouse and the beacon, at the entrance to Stornoway Harbour, were quite visible, but for some unknown reason the Iolaire passed the opening and ran at full speed on a reef, known as the Beasts of Holm. Holm is about two miles from Stornoway; the time was about midnight on the last day of the year.” (Dr. Fraser Rose from Wednesday’s Child Volume 3) There were 78 survivors and over 200 drowned including the captain and crew. My maternal great-grandfather, a preacher, loaned out his horse and carriage so that locals could go to the area to find out if their loved ones had survived. He lost 23 members out of his congregation but families all across Lewis were deeply affected both through wartime deaths and this disaster. This disaster no doubt impacted Mary MacLeod’s decision to emigrate to the USA at the age of 18. What made her story unusual and worthy of inclusion in this book was her eventual marriage to Frederick Trump, father of the infamous Donald Trump. The reader will not be disappointed by lack of detail in this non-fiction book. There are many fascinating stories and excellent footnotes at the book end. I found it a fairly lengthy read which perhaps could have been improved with a little culling of some of the detail which at times felt mildly repetitive but overall the author did an excellent job of exploring a marvelous era and giving the reader a good understanding of the important role that women had to play in ensuring the success of the travel industry of this time period. It is an excellent addition to the literature on this subject. I’m very glad that I had a chance to read it. Many thanks to #NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to read an advance reader’s copy. All the opinions are entirely my own.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans is a wonderful nonfiction that delves into the excitement of transatlantic travel, notable firsts, and the life and times of the female passengers and guests traveling upon the sea. This is such a unique and fascinating book and I really enjoyed the eclectic and entertaining collection of stories telling of the plethora of female passengers (some famous, some not) that traveled on ships for business and pleasure throughout the “Golden Age” of naval travel. It was so r Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans is a wonderful nonfiction that delves into the excitement of transatlantic travel, notable firsts, and the life and times of the female passengers and guests traveling upon the sea. This is such a unique and fascinating book and I really enjoyed the eclectic and entertaining collection of stories telling of the plethora of female passengers (some famous, some not) that traveled on ships for business and pleasure throughout the “Golden Age” of naval travel. It was so refreshing to read not only about famous women, but women of different backgrounds and positions and how they experienced their trips. It was like taking a peak into another time and world. The author clearly did his research and I was impressed with the collection presented and how it turned out. Very memorable and I highly recommend. 5/5 stars Thank you NetGalley and John Murray Press/Two Roads for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR, Bookbub, Amazon, and B&N accounts immediately.

  26. 4 out of 5

    theliterateleprechaun

    Which is most important to you when you travel – the journey or the destination? Sian Evans sheds light on the pioneering women who sailed during the Golden Age of travel, either as passengers or as seafarers, and points out that the experience transformed their lives for the better. It’s easy to see that at this time in history, the journey was the luxury and was more important than the destination. How quickly this changed! Once technology and engineering progressed, long-haul flights were poss Which is most important to you when you travel – the journey or the destination? Sian Evans sheds light on the pioneering women who sailed during the Golden Age of travel, either as passengers or as seafarers, and points out that the experience transformed their lives for the better. It’s easy to see that at this time in history, the journey was the luxury and was more important than the destination. How quickly this changed! Once technology and engineering progressed, long-haul flights were possible and passengers were able to traverse the 3000 miles of ocean in much less time in the air than by sea. What did change was the experience. Passengers traded the luxury of ocean liners and fine dining for convenience and affordability. No longer is the journey enjoyable. Now it’s the destination. The seats on planes are cramped, you’re invariably stuck beside someone you’d never choose to spend time with, the food is questionable, the entertainment is spotty at best and you’re forced to cooperate as someone roots through your luggage and pats you down. How far we’ve come in 50 years! I’m biased towards sea travel. I’m an avid cruiser with over 400 days at sea. In my opinion, the worst day at sea I’ve ever had is still better than the best day I’ve experienced on a plane – apples to apples – a regular cabin on a ship and a regular seat on a plane. Cruising is the best of both worlds; you get to enjoy the journey and the destination. The delight and appeal of this book is not just the author’s writing skills, but the main era in which it is written. Evans book is a gem which brings to light women of all ages, backgrounds and social classes who chose to travel by sea or work at sea. She touches on the social, technical and historical aspects of ocean liners and sprinkles the information with a generous helping of anecdotes and interesting stories. Interesting fact: Cunard Chief Officer Stephen Gronow of the Aquitania was the author’s great-great uncle. The Golden Age of travel is gone, but the spirit of travel lives on. I think we can all agree that after the year we’ve all experienced, we’re more than ready to dust off our suitcases and hop on a plane or a boat. This non-fiction book is to be published on August 10, 2021. I was gifted this advance copy by Sian Evans, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda McCutcheon

    "They had a sense of their own agency, and had proved to themselves that they could earn an independent living...that they could be citizens of the world...And in order to do that, they had to go to sea." The time from WWI and WWII proved to be transformative for women in the work force and Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans takes us through the surprising changes that had world wide and royal ramifications. This extremely well researched history book not only details how women became necessary on ocean "They had a sense of their own agency, and had proved to themselves that they could earn an independent living...that they could be citizens of the world...And in order to do that, they had to go to sea." The time from WWI and WWII proved to be transformative for women in the work force and Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans takes us through the surprising changes that had world wide and royal ramifications. This extremely well researched history book not only details how women became necessary on ocean liners whether as maids, companions for unaccompanied women and children and eventually some radio operators but how those traveling from Europe to America and America to Europe changed our current world. I also listened to the audiobook narrated by Jilly Bond who with her British accent lends substance to some great gossip about famous travellers like Hedy Lamar and Josephine Baker. My favorite story was about how Gloria Vanderbilt's twin sister was the mistress of King Edward but had a shipboard romance that ended their affair and led to him falling for Wallis Simpson and abdicating the English throne. There are also fascinating stories about the Titanic, Lusitania and Queen Mary. Women fought for these jobs often told no because the ship builders would not make a women's bathroom. They had to take tests twice as hard as the men to show there was no favoritism and then they were told no because it was thought they "might go to pieces in a crisis." Though the parts on the building of the ships went over my head I will remember the sacrifice and bravery this author highlights of these revolutionary women. I received a free copy of this book and audiobook from the publishers via NetGalley for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    This book starts out with Violet Jessop who is a stewardess voyaging to and from the West Indies. She worked on the Titanic and was rescued via a lifeboat. World War I cut down on some traffic after the Lusitania was sunk by the Germans. During the war, traveling on water for pleasure was reduced. Thus, women who had worked on the great ships began working in shipbuilding and weapon production. More than 9 million people were killed in World War I. Let that number sink in. After the war and sold This book starts out with Violet Jessop who is a stewardess voyaging to and from the West Indies. She worked on the Titanic and was rescued via a lifeboat. World War I cut down on some traffic after the Lusitania was sunk by the Germans. During the war, traveling on water for pleasure was reduced. Thus, women who had worked on the great ships began working in shipbuilding and weapon production. More than 9 million people were killed in World War I. Let that number sink in. After the war and soldiers returned home, the women were thanked for the jobs they had done but asked to leave as the jobs were needed for men. So, many women went back to work on passenger ships. The book covers immigration and the immense number of people who wanted to come and live in the U.S. and Canada. The stewardesses worked on the ships bringing those people to their destinations. Their jobs encompassed many responsibilities with these immigrants. When Prohibition in the U.S. hit, lots of people wanted to sail aboard passenger ships so they could drink all the alcohol they wanted. Foreign ships could not come very close to the U.S. coast unless they dumped their alcohol. The book further discusses many movie stars, politicians and Olympic participants who sailed on these ships. This is a book that shows how women have contributed to the ship/sailing industry. It is a good resource for someone interested in that subject. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andreajanel_reads

    I absolutely loved this glimpse into how transatlantic travel impacted the lives of working women. This is a fascinating study of the opportunities women found as workers on ocean liners from the late 19th century all the way through the 1950s. The author painstakingly researched the personal sacrifices these women made to better the lives of their families in an era that did not provide ordinary women many chances to travel outside of their own communities. This book examines the challenges the I absolutely loved this glimpse into how transatlantic travel impacted the lives of working women. This is a fascinating study of the opportunities women found as workers on ocean liners from the late 19th century all the way through the 1950s. The author painstakingly researched the personal sacrifices these women made to better the lives of their families in an era that did not provide ordinary women many chances to travel outside of their own communities. This book examines the challenges these women faced as they faced both gender and class barriers. It delves deep into how wealth defined a woman's experience aboard ocean liners, and how despite the boundaries that separated them, all women were defined and constrained by the same limits to obtaining social equality. This book is an extraordinary social commentary because it demonstrates how the unique social dynamics that happened on these ocean liners were a reflection of the broader changes shaping society as a whole. Highly recommended if you read and enjoyed any of the following books, or if you are fascinated by early women's and labor rights movements history: The Doctors Blackwell, No Man's Land, Out to Work and Not June Cleaver.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    In this book, Evans explores the ways transatlantic sea voyages changed women's lives --from Victorian times through to the age of air travel. The book introduces us to a variety of women -- some we meet in more detail than others -- and details how their lives were affected by their time onboard. Some women went to sea for work, as stewardess, personal maids, nurses, and so on. Others sailed to help with various war efforts. Some were immigrants, others were traveling for pleasure or business. S In this book, Evans explores the ways transatlantic sea voyages changed women's lives --from Victorian times through to the age of air travel. The book introduces us to a variety of women -- some we meet in more detail than others -- and details how their lives were affected by their time onboard. Some women went to sea for work, as stewardess, personal maids, nurses, and so on. Others sailed to help with various war efforts. Some were immigrants, others were traveling for pleasure or business. Some were rich; others were poor. Some were seeking independence; others were looking for blackmail targets, husbands, or adventure. Some of the ships are notable: the Lusitania and the Titanic, for example. Others less so. All the stories are tied into feminist or women's issues and concerns. Some stories tie into major moments in history, but others show everyday life. I listened to the audiobook read by Jilly Bond, who did an okay job. She was slightly over the top when reading quoted material, but otherwise I liked her performance. I wish the audiobook came with a PDF, because the print book contains photos, which I think would have really enhanced the reading experience.

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