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Also available on amazon.com for £5.99 (as of February 16, 2018 12:47 am – Details). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

From the late 19th century, when the Raj was at its height, many of Britain's best and brightest young men went out to India to work as administrators, soldiers and businessmen. With the advent of steam travel and the opening of the Suez Canal, countless young women, suffering at the lack of eligible men in Britain, followed in their wake. This amorphous band was composed of daughters returning after their English education, girls invited to stay with married sisters or friends, and yet others whose declared or undeclared goal was simply to find a husband. They were known as the Fishing Fleet, and this book is their story, hitherto untold.

For these young women, often away from home for the first time, one thing they could be sure of was a rollicking good time. By the early 20th century, a hectic social scene was in place, with dances, parties, amateur theatricals, picnics, tennis tournaments, cinemas and gymkhanas, with perhaps a tiger shoot and a glittering dinner at a raja's palace thrown in. And, with men outnumbering women by roughly four to one, romances were conducted at alarming speed and marriages were frequent. But after the honeymoon, life often changed dramatically: whisked off to a remote outpost with few other Europeans for company, and where constant vigilance was required to guard against disease, they found it a far cry from the social whirlwind of their first arrival.

Anne de Courcy's sparkling narrative is enriched by a wealth of first-hand sources – unpublished memoirs, letters and diaries rescued from attics – which bring this forgotten era vividly to life.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3869 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: Not Enabled
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Customer Reviews

Just how my mother told it!

22 people found this helpful.
 on 24 October 2012
By Cornwallgurl
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.

A glimpse into a different era and very different lives

2 people found this helpful.
 on 15 March 2015
By Four Violets
The “Raj” refers to the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947. The word means “rule” in Hindi. In 1858 the sway of the British East India Company was transferred to the Crown. Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1876. In the intervening years, until Partition in 1947, the British, along with individual rulers of some princely states, effectively governed in India.

I brought this for a friend but have read it …

One person found this helpful.
 on 14 October 2017
By Ms. Katherine J. Taylor
I brought this for a friend but have read it earlier myself. An interesting description of life for the young women who went to India in the hope of marrying and their lives both while unmarried and wives in India. A description of the hardships (climate, insects remote postings) and pleasures (parties, pomp and summer stations_ of life for British in the Raj. Although it covers the whole period of the Raj the focus is on the later days. Several interesting life stories.

A wonderful book, really capturing the glamour and hardship of life in British India…

 on 16 December 2013
By C. Ball
The British Raj, stretching from 1858 when the Crown took over management of India from the East India Company, to Independence in 1947, is very much a story of the British Empire at its height, and as such, rightly or wrongly, has always evoked a particular kind of nostalgic glamour – elephants and howdahs, maharajahs, tiger hunts at dawn, polo games and gymkhanas, brilliantly-clad officers and jewel-bedecked ladies at the Club. It was also an intensely masculine world, populated by soldiers and members of the ICS, Indian Civil Service, a world where men outnumbered women four to one. As a result, in an era where it was the height of any respectable woman’s ambition to marry and marry well, it was seen as an ideal place to ‘catch a husband’.

Superb account of a little remembered event in India.

3 people found this helpful.
 on 30 May 2013
By R Adeney
This is a beautifully written account of a facet of the Raj, which is missed by most of the histories of the period. Seen through the eyes of those who participated, Anne de Courcy has created a book of great interest that I found difficult to put down. Her diligent research shines through every chapter and gives an excellent insight of just how things were during the Raj. For me it has been hugely interesting because one of the women was the daughter of an ancestor of mine and as a result, I have been able to contact and meet the modern members of her family.

Amazing. The memsahibs have generally had a bad press

 on 5 August 2014
By Mr. P. Skeldon
I have an interest in the British Empire, especially India. This came from my experiences in Africa and in Calcutta in India. In Calcutta, I saw the remnants of colonial life such as the Victoria monument and the small English village cricket ground. Amazing. The memsahibs have generally had a bad press, and this is a welcome corrective. The courage and adaptability of many of these women shines through, as well as the absurdities of the conventions and attitudes of the time and place.
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