Friday, 27 June 2014

Kim's Review : The Linnet Bird

I've been currently reading about Victoria Gowramma, who along with her father, were the first Indian Royals to travel to England in 1852.

The Linnet Bird is in some ways a reverse story. It is a fictional account of one of the women - Linnet Gow, nee Linny Smallpiece who traveled from Liverpool to India on "the fishing fleet" in 1832. Most women who undertook the 4 month journey by sea from UK to India, did so to find suitable husbands who were in high positions in the East India Company or the British military stationed in India. But that was not the case with Linnet.

Her background couldn't be more different from most of the high-born women on the "Fishing Fleet" ships. Born to an unwed mother, who took her to work with her at a Bookbinders factory. Her mother Frances dies before Linny turns eleven and her stepfather prostitutes her out, until a senile old customer almost murders her and throws her body into the Mersey river.

This is one turning point in her life and she leaves her stepfathers rented rooms and goes to work on the street, so she can keep at least half her wages for herself.

But another twist in her life sees her taken in by a kindly man, who gets her a job at a Library. Here she is able to observe people from a higher class and finds a friend in Faith Vespry. When the man whom Faith hopes to marry leaves Liverpool for London, she decides to make the trip to India to find herself a husband, but she needs a companion for this trip.

Faith's father is willing to pay for the voyage and they have a family in Calcutta willing to host them for the season.

This was the part of the book most interesting to me. To read about India through the eyes of Linny and the views of other Britishers living in India towards India and Indians.

Linny has a unique view on the country because of her previous background. She is more sympathetic and has a hunger to learn more about the locals and their ways, while most of the other Britishers that she encounters are determined to be more British in India than they ever were in Britain. Hierarchies, customs and etiquette are much more pronounced in their adopted country than in the original.

The descriptions of Linny's 4 month journey by ship from Liverpool to Calcutta and then a subsequent 4 week trip from Calcutta to Shimla were very interesting.

Linda Holeman is a Candian author who has written 13 books of fiction, 5 of which are Historical. These tales demonstrate the plight of women in the 18th and 19th centuries, from the point of view of strongly drawn female protagonists. Linnet

There were a few "Indian" words that I couldn't figure out, other than that, this book was an easy interesting read, that kept me reading.

Rating : 3.5 / 5

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