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  • Two Roads
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Maiden Voyages: women and the Golden Age of transatlantic travel

Sian Evans

10 Reviews

Rated 0

20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000

How the Golden Age of transatlantic travel between the wars transformed women's lives across all classes - a vivid portrait of life on-board the iconic ocean liners.

HOW THE GOLDEN AGE OF TRANSATLANTIC TRAVEL BETWEEN THE WARS TRANSFORMED WOMEN'S LIVES ACROSS ALL CLASSES - A VIVID CROSS SECTION OF LIFE ON-BOARD THE ICONIC OCEAN LINERS FROM BELOW DECKS TO THE CAPTAIN'S TABLE.

'In this riveting slice of social history, Sian Evans does a brilliant job of describing the unexpected textures of life at sea...By deep diving into the archives, Sian Evans has discovered a watery in-between world where the usual rules didn't quite apply and a spirited woman could get further than she ever would on dry land. - Mail on Sunday

Migrants and millionairesses, refugees and aristocrats all looking for a way to improve their lives. After WW1 a world of opportunity was opening up for women ... Before convenient air travel, transatlantic travel was the province of the great ocean liners and never more so than in the glory days of the interwar years. It was an extraordinary undertaking made by many women. Some traveled for leisure, some for work; others to find a new life, marriage, to reinvent themselves or find new opportunities. Their stories have remained largely untold - until now.

Maiden Voyages is a fascinating portrait of these women, and their lives on board magnificent ocean liners as they sailed between the old and the new worlds. The ocean liner was a microcosm of contemporary society, divided by class: from the luxury of the upper deck, playground for the rich and famous, to the cramped conditions of steerage or third class travel. These iconic liners were filled with women of all ages, classes and backgrounds: celebrities and refugees, migrants and millionairesses, aristocrats and crew members.

Full of incredible gossip, stories and intrigue, Maiden Voyages has a diverse cast of inspiring women - from A-listers like Josephine Baker, a dancer from St Louis who found fame in Paris, Marlene Dietrich and Wallis Simpson, Violet 'the unsinkable' Jessop, a crew member who survived the sinking of the Titanic, and entrepreneur Sibyl Colefax, a pioneering interior designer.

Whichever direction they were travelling, whatever hopes they entertained, they were all under the spell of life at sea, a spell which would only break when they went ashore. Maiden Voyages is a compelling and highly entertaining account of life on board: part dream factory, part place of work, independence and escape - always moving.

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Praise for Maiden Voyages: women and the Golden Age of transatlantic travel

  • PRAISE FOR QUEEN BEES: 'So entertaining'

  • - The Times

  • The book, like their parties, is "enormous fun"

  • - Guardian

  • Crammed with fascinating anecdotes

  • - Independent

  • A whirl of a book, gossipy, light and fun

  • - Times Literary Supplement

  • Gloriously gossipy

  • - Red

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Sian Evans

Cultural historian Sian Evans has worked for the National Trust, the V&A and the Design Museum, and is the author of several works of social history including Mrs Ronnie: The Society Hostess Who Collected Kings, The Manor Reborn and Life Below Stairs.
Sian lives in London.

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