Maiden voyages by Sian Evans

Maiden voyages by Sian Evans sounded like a fascinating book, as the subtitle explains it’s about women and the golden age of Transatlantic travel. Well, the book is such a disappointment. It feels like gossip many times. For example, she talks about Donald Trump’s mother quite a lot, just because she went to US in a ship, how is that so relevant? As I mentioned in the goodreads review, in US’s history there were no Native American presidents, so the families of all 47 presidents got to US by ship at some point, just like anybody else who emigrated before cheap air travel.

Maiden voyages by Sian Evans

Another thing I was annoyed about was the lack of details on the white slave trade, surprising considering that the author is a woman and women were forced into slavery. She even talks about this using sneer quotes! It is really annoying, for me, to see this missed opportunity. She mentions people like Victoria Drummond and talks about Jews who fled Europe, but it’s just too little. The book is mainly gossip, with some serious and heartbreaking details intertwined.

Those snippets of life aboard the ships and cruise liners, the details on GI’s wives, what happened during prohibition and wars, these were the things that kept me reading. But, overall, I feel it was not good enough because the gossip overwhelmed the rest.

I would recommend this book only if you are looking for a light, tabloid-style kind of book. It’s nothing wrong with that.

Maiden voyages by Sian Evans

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: no
Published by: Hachette UK
Year it was published: 2020
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History
Pages: 355

About the author: Siân Evans is a prolific author, journalist, commentator, speaker, publicist, and film consultant specialising in social history. She is the author of a plethora of popular social histories including Mrs Ronnie: the Society Hostess who collected Kings; The Manor Reborn (tied in with a major 4 part BBC1 TV series); Life Below Stairs in the Victorian and Edwardian Country House; Ghosts: Mysterious Tales from the National Trust; 7 National Trust Guidebooks between 2008 and 2014 and Great Hostesses (John Murray, 2016), a book examining the role of six influential interwar society hostesses. Siân regularly writes for BBC Antiques Roadshow Magazine, Daily Mail, The Express, Coast Magazine National Trust Members’ Magazine and Royal Oak Foundation Newsletter. She works as a freelance consultant to the National Trust Film Office and is an experienced public speaker.
Website & Social Media Links: –

8 thoughts on “Maiden voyages by Sian Evans”

  • I have this one on my bookshelf – might just stay there a little longer !

  • Considering this is meant to be non-fiction, I can understand your disappointment.

    I will say that most of the biographies I’ve read have been pretty unbiased and factual, but of course there’s always a certain amount of bias. It’s only human. With memoirs/autobiographies, it just depends on the subject.
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    • I agree that nobody can be 100% unbiased. If it’s not clear from what they say, it is clear (for the ones knowing the subject) from the sources they pick and mention in the book.
      With biographies I am very careful when I chose, I look closely at the author and in general is works great. But, many journalists (not all, of course) have a tendency to exaggerate and I don’t like that, like Agent Sonya, for example.

  • It is so disappointing when you have a certain expectation about what you hope to achieve from reading a book and how you would like it to make you feel by the end, only to be thwarted when it doesn’t quite live up to the hype! I don’t like non-fiction that is basically nothing more than gossip or tittle-tattle, which is why I tend to steer clear of memoirs and biographies. I wouldn’t really expect that from a book which purports to offer up historical facts, so I think I might feel a bit cheated too! I hope that your next book is much more to your liking 🙂

    • I know what you mean by memoirs and biographies. I discovered that most journalists can’t seem to be able to drag themselves out of the sensationalistic way of portraying a subject, so now I avoid them. Yesterday I read the introduction and first chapter from 2 books before saying that these are DNFs. I don’t mind a bit of personal touch, but gossip seems like a wasted opportunity when it comes to subjects like this.

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