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 the era, the ships themselves, and 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.
Historian Evans (Queen Bees) delivers an entertaining chronicle of transatlantic ocean travel in the first half of the 20th century focused on the female passengers and crew members who stepped aboard such famous ocean liners as the Olympic, the Titanic, and the Queen Mary. Drawing on diaries, letters, and published accounts, Evans's sweeping history takes in the celebrities who frolicked in first class, including Marlene Dietrich and Tallulah Bankhead; widows who found work onboard; and aspirational emigrants such as Mary Ann MacLeod, who left Scotland in abject poverty in 1930 and became a "New World matriarch" as Mrs. Fred Trump. The liners also carried popular writers like Vera Brittain and E.M. Delafield to their lectures in North America, and brought war brides to their new homes in the U.S. Excerpts from the memoirs of the "unsinkable" Violet Jessop, a stewardess and nurse who survived the sinkings of the Titanic and the Britannic, and Edith Sowerbutts, a "conductress" who cared for unaccompanied women and children, provide color and drama, as does the story of journalist Martha Gellhorn, who hitched rides aboard a dynamite-laden cargo vessel and a hospital ship in order to cover the D-Day landings. Women's history buffs and readers who enjoyed Erik Larson's Dead Wake will have a bon voyage.
History Non Fiction Ocean Liners Women Travel
Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans is Historical Nonfiction and is about travel on ocean liners by various classes of women. The lives of the people and how they evolved through the years from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Jobs on ships changed and became available according to wars, prohibition, peace and especially need. The information in this book about the different ships in this era could be a book in itself.
I really enjoyed reading about how lives were changed because of various opportunities offered to women at sea. I found some of the people so appealing, I would like to read more about their adventures and lives. Loved the real History.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I appreciate the opportunity and thank the author and publisher for allowing me to read, enjoy and review this book. 5 Stars