The Rajah sails for Australia.
On board are 180 women convicted of petty crimes, sentenced to start a new life half way across the world.
Daughters, sisters, mothers – they’ll never see home or family again. Despised and damned all they have now is each other.
Until the murder.
As the fearful hunt for a killer begins, everyone on board is a suspect.
The investigation risks tearing their friendships apart….
But if the killer isn’t found, could it cost them their last chance of freedom?
Based on a real-life voyage, Dangerous women is a sweeping tale of confinement, hope and the terrible things we do to survive.
This story is set in 1841and follows the fates of 180 women prisoners who are being transported to Van Die men’s Land. Giving them a chance for a new start, a fresh life. But in going they are having to leave everyone and everything they know behind. Their crimes are petty ones, some are innocent of the charges. Others have done what they have done in order to feed their children.
For one prisoner, she was due to hang but has managed to swap places with another prisoner by drugging her and tying her up and taking her place. For the whole journey she is fearful of being caught and either being sent back or hung when they reach their destination. The reader knows nothing of her crime until later in the book.
Kezia Hayter is the matron in charge of the women, she had a free passage on the ship, in exchange for devoting her time to caring and improving the prisoners, on behalf of the Ladies Society. Throughout the journey which took from April 1841 to July 1841 she oversaw the making of a large patchwork coverlet known as the Rajah Quilt. Kezia chooses 18 women out of the 180 to work on the quilt. Which becomes a thing of beauty, it gives the women something to focus on instead of the rolling of the ship, as well as keeping them busy. Before the voyage Kezia Hayter had worked with Elizabeth Fry and others on the Ladies Committee to improve the lives of prisoners. at Millbank Penitentiary for ten months.
The story is fictional but some of the characters are the names of real characters who were on that journey such as Kezia Hayter and the Captain Charles Ferguson.
The story is told through two timelines April 1841 Then, July 1841 Now as the journey progresses and Hattie has been stabbed but by who? And why? Also told through two viewpoints one of Kezia and the other Cara.
From the ladies boarding the ship, to those being picked to work on the quilt, getting to know some of the characters. The women are all strong characters. Some have been allowed children with them, if there was no one in court that could take the child and look after it, then they went with the parent. For some that had to leave children and grandchildren behind it was a very difficult time. Hattie had her son Bertie with her.
These women were stitching either on the deck of the ship or down below where I can’t even imagine what the light would have been like, when I stitch I need a large overhead daylight lamp, not only did they have that to deal with but the constant movement of the ship. But despite all this these ladies worked on the quilt which is on exhibition even now. This was Kezia Hayter’s dream to have something to show of the journey they had made. At the end of each day she she would have the women sing a hymn. At the beginning of each chapter is a description of the fabrics being used on the next piece of the quilt.
The descriptions of the claustrophobic conditions on board the ship are so realistic you can imagine how tight it would have been, the smells and the rocking of the boat, especially when the see became rougher and the slop buckets were tipping over along with everything else.
The story of the sailing was true and that of the quilt making, but the author adding the murder in added some intrigue to the story, as we start to learn some of the secrets of the women, until the climax near the end where we find who the real killer is and why.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and found myself looking up the quilt to see what it looked like. The story is woven as beautifully as the stitching on the quilt. If you like historical fiction then I highly recommend you grab a copy of this 5⭐️ read, I literally couldn’t put it down.
I would like to thank @HanifasCorner at @MichaelJBooks for sending me a copy of this book by #HopeAdams.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hope Adam’s was born in Jerusalem and spent her early childhood in many different countries, such as Nigeria and British North Borneo, She went to Roedean School in Brighton, and from there to St Hilda’s College, Oxford