Monday, December 5, 2011

The Tin Ticket - Deborah J. Swiss

Deborah J. Swiss's new book The Tin Ticket will appeal to lovers of history and historical fiction.

Although I knew that Australia had been populated by convicts during it's early settlement, I really didn't know the full story.

"For nearly one hundred years, England had routinely disposed of its convict population in the American colonies, and built its rich empire on the backs of convict and slave labor. However, the American Revolution, followed by the abolition of slavery, eliminated this option. Great Britain could not persuade its "proper" citizenry to homestead its new colonies in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) and in New South Wales (Australia). Under the Transportation Act of 1718, 162,000 women, men and children were exiled to Australia from 1788 to 1868."

Swiss's research unearthed the story of quite a few women, but follows the journey of four of them in detail, from trying to survive day to day in Great Britain through to meeting the descendants of these women in present day Oz.  But Swiss's telling of their stories reads almost like fiction. She has given these unsung settlers a human face and vividly brings their stories to life. I truly was amazed at the fortitude of these women, surviving inhumane treatment and conditions. I think I enjoyed the story of Agnes McMillan the most. She was abandoned at 12 in Glasgow and finished her life, surrounded by her family in a lovely valley in her own home. Her journey is truly remarkable.

Swiss's book is full of information on a time period in history that I wager few of us really know much about. What makes this book stand out are the personal stories and just how strong women really are. This would be a great discussion book for clubs. Recommended. Peek inside.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I suspect I could learn a lot from this one. I knew that convicts were sent to Australia, too, but that's about all I knew of their early history.