The boat loads of women who went to India during the colonial period to find a husband were known as the Fishing Fleet. I love that name and I am fascinated by these intrepid travelers, which is why I dove at the chance to read The Fishing Fleet by Anne De Courcy. De Courcy is a well known and respected British writer so I was expecting a well thought out, even sociological, look at these women and their times. I thought the book would deliver a little true life romance and adventure, which I suppose it did, but overall I was left disappointed.
Overall the book felt like it was put together and written in very rushed way. De Courcy focuses most on the women who went to India in the early 20th century. She admits to this as a bias of the book, but she does not explain why this is so. Was it a dearth of information from earlier periods? My instinct as a scholar of South Asia says no.
Moreover, the book seems to be just a random catalog of women’s stories. Though there are numerous chapters, they don’t appear to have any guiding principle or theme. Perhaps a more chronological approach would have helped. By the end I found myself skimming.
Who would like this book? Well, naturally I thought someone like me would like this book. That is someone with an interest in colonial India, and particularly the women who inhabited that world. But as I say I was disappointed. I was hoping for something a little bit more like Margret MacMillan’s Women of the Raj, which is a brilliant depiction of the period.