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The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj

The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj [Kindle Edition]

Anne de Courcy
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Anne de Courcy's history is a sparkling collage of stories and quotations in which we hear the authentic voices of the women and girls she portrays, most of them natural, unaffected writers with sharp eyes, a gift for description and a sense of humour. This book is brilliantly researched, and full of delights. (THE DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Anne De Courcy combines the perseverance of a social historian with the panache of a novelist in her tales from the Raj. (THE TIMES)

The Fishing Fleet is an entertaining, richly detailed account of a world that vanished overnight in 1947 with independence. De Courcy revels in the details of durbars, tiger hunts, maharajahs dripping with jewels, but also reveals how life in the jewel of the crown could be as desperate as it was glittering (Daisy Goodwin THE SUNDAY TIMES)

This is a fine picture of a lost world (JAD ADAMS THE GUARDIAN)

This sparkling collage explores the lives of the English girls who came to colonial India to hook themselves a spouse, and draws intriguing parallels between India and British social attitudes. (THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

What this brilliantly researched book, using letters and diaries, reveals is that for many of the brightest and most attractive girls, the experience was thrilling and liberating - one girl writes how she went dancing 26 nights in a row, another had dates with eight different men in as many nights. For others, the experience was humiliating as, failing to land a man, they sailed home labelled 'Returned Empties'. Once married, the women showed extraordinary grit and strength as, unless they bagged top men in the prime city locations, the life could be lonely, hard and thankless. A wonderful slice of history (Sally Morris DAILY MAIL)

Recommended as an absorbing read. (HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW)

Book Description

The adventurous young women who sailed to India during the Raj in search of husbands. Perfect for fans of SINGLED OUT - a great book club option.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2394 KB
  • Print Length: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; 1st edition (12 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007N6VHE2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #13,279 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
103 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fishing Fleet: Husband Hunting in the Raj 15 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have always loved Anne De Courcy's biographies and books about social history of women, including the excellent The Viceroy's Daughters: The Lives of the Curzon Sisters (Women in History), 1939: The Last Season and Debs at War: 1939-1945: 1939-45 and I was equally delighted with her latest work, which looks at the rather bizarre subject of 'husband hunting' in the Raj. This book spans all the years of the British in India, although most of the stories are from the twentieth century.

When the British first went to India to trade and work, the men who left the country knew they would probably not return and married Indian wives or took Indian mistresses. As time went on and the East India Company and trade was replaced by government and the ruling classes, men were curtailed from doing this by various means which meant their children were punished by being unable to obtain good jobs and positions. Obviously, as men did not want either their wives or children to suffer through being married to them, gradually their only option was to marry girls from home - easier said than done as travel difficulties meant finding British brides difficult. The Company then began to pay passage to India of a number of willing women who were maintained for a year and expected to marry within that time. For young women, perhaps not pretty or rich enough to make a 'good match' at home, it was a chance to find a husband with better prospects than they could at home and women flocked to India, willing to try to make a go of it.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just how my mother told it! 24 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book for obvious reasons - my mother (born Ooticamund 1908, living in Ceylon with her family in the mid 20's, met & married my father who visited in an RN Warship) was one of the kind of people written about. Her own mother's family went back at least two generations in India and all met and married similar families out there. Obviously, with quite a lot of background, I found it riveting, loved the pictures and thought the style elegant and informed. I wasn't concerned about the piecemeal nature of the memoirs, and thought them well marshalled and edited.

I only forebore from giving it 5 stars because I can hear my mother's snort from beyond the grave. She was very precise about the "Fishing Fleet"; they were girls who were sent out to India from England to Indian based relatives to find a husband. As distinct from "country-born" girls, who may (by my mother's, but not in her mother's time) be sent back to England to be educated, and who then returned to live with their families. The author seemed to use the epithet for all who met and married in India, including girls from Indian based families.

It also delightfully emphasised the tremendous importance of brothers in this whole operation - my mother often told me how important it was that her brother was there to introduce her to brother officers and chaperone her.

We used to laugh that my parents were reverse fishing fleet - she lived there and my father sailed out and met her in India, although they were married in England and she never lived in India or Ceylon again after her marriage to a Naval Officer. Undoubtedly a partial review, but I loved it and will look out Anne de Courcy's other books (some of which I have heard of, but not yet read).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful research - terrible editing. 22 Jan 2013
The amount of research done was huge, but the book was dull. Anecdotes/facts were jumbled together with 'stories' about individuals - but these 'stories' would 'end' with no resolution and I found myself reading another anecdote/story, which would end just as unresolved to begin another anecdote.

After reading 1/3 I just wanted to give up.

Truly interesting 'facts'/anecdotes made into unbearable reading by 'fractured' writing/editing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy Days 12 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A thoroughly enjoyable yarn, particularly if one has served in the Sub-Continent. Although a lifetime ago, this book has brought back memories, and plenty of smiles.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive 31 Dec 2013
By Mrs P D
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's a catalogue of girls telling about their time in India. It was interesting to read some of the facts but was all a bit repetitive. There were so many facts it was difficult to remember whether you'd read about that particular girl before. Not a novel but a diary of facts. I'd be reluctant to recommend this book as I think some would find it quite boring.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating story, well told 10 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A really good read about a fascinating subject. Anne de Courcy clearly did extensive research and it has paid off. The sheer boredom of women's lives in India hadn't occured to me before and yet they managed well. The men, although very bright, seemed to be only really interested in riding, polo and tiger hunting. Class was all-important, particularly amongst the wives for whom precedence at social events was their main interest. The British class system was only matched by India's caste structure, which may be one of the reasons the Raj survived for so long. Victorian values and morals appeared to have lasted until the 1939/45 war. Strongly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
wasnt for me but apperently good
Published 6 days ago by KATHERINE O`HARA
4.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting and factual account of the travels and ...
A very interesting and factual account of the travels and lives of the young women who sailed out to India in the days of the Raj, in search of adventure but mainly to look for... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Constantreader
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
a good read
Published 10 days ago by Mrs. T. S. Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this
Fascinating look at the days of the Raj . Really enjoyed this book
Published 15 days ago by Irene Findlay
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 1 month ago by Sue Harris
2.0 out of 5 stars what a wasted opportunity
Too many names, some repetition of information and no logical sequence. Would make a brilliant novel if three characters were allowed to experience different experiences based on... Read more
Published 1 month ago by JD
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne de Courcy
Great book, well written and thoroughly enjoyable
Published 2 months ago by JackieA
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fascinating insight into life in the Indian marriage market
Published 2 months ago by rosemary
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent and fascinating book.
Published 2 months ago by mary maunsell-thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I really enjoyed this well written interesting book, especially as my father's family were 'children of the Raj'!
Published 3 months ago by J. A. Newsam
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