The Company Daughters by Samantha Rajaram

The Company Daughters by Samantha Rajaram

Samantha Rajaram comes to the blog with her debut offering, a story based in fact and set in 17th century Netherlands and Indonesia with  

The Company Daughters 

Told in the perspective of Jana Bell, a young woman who ran from poverty and abuse north of Amsterdam and found little more than trouble, more hard work and abuse after. From being conscripted into a “roundhouse’ or brothel on first arrival, she ran from that situation only to beg a position as a maid in the Reynst household where she meets and is instantly captivated by young Sontje – the daughter of the house.  Things are not ‘easy’ but comfortable, and in this house, she is safe and free from abuse.  But bad investments and loss of fortune soon turn that situation around, and Sontje’s engagement falls through – the option to become one of the ‘mail order brides’ for ‘The Company’ becomes the best option. Worried for Sontje, although not interested in marriage – Jana finds a way onto the ship to ‘watch’ for her.  

What emerges is a story of a growing love between the two girls – even as it started in the ‘familiar’, and the pragmatism of Jana, not expecting more or better is a constant contrast to Sontje’s rather sheltered and rosier outlook on the world. A ten-month voyage to Batavia (modern day Jakarta) brings deprivations, hardship, abuse and plenty of struggle, and arriving to ‘discover’ their futures isn’t much better.  

Be aware that the situation for both these girls is grim, and situations, circumstances and attitudes all push the idea forward that women, in this situation, are little more than commodities, and just slightly more valued than the slave labor, both imported and native, that the company uses with impunity to build their base and fortune.  For a debut, Ranjaram has put us in Jana’s head, allowing us to see the bleak realities of the world as she sees it: even with her cautious and rather pessimistic viewpoint, the story flows smoothly from one moment and incident to the next.  It’s not an easy read, but it is wholly engaging and utterly ‘in the moment’ while showing the similarities and differences between 500+ year old attitudes and those that are still fought against today.  Take a chance to see and understand a bit better the history of subjugation and valuation of women and allow yourself to be transported to the world of old.  

The Company Daughters by Samantha Rajaram

Title: The Company Daughters
Author: Samantha Rajaram
Genre: 17th Century, Action / Adventure, Antipodes, Colonial Era, Dark-theme, European History, Friendship, Historic Elements, Historical Fiction, Political commentary, Sociological Relevancy, Suspense Elements
Published by: Bookouture
ISBN: 1800191766
Published on: 30 October, 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 385
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 20 minutes
Rated: four-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon Barnes&Noble iTunes Kobo IndieBound Book Depository GoogleAudible
See this Title on Goodreads

Wanted: Company Daughters. Virtuous young ladies to become the brides of industrious settlers in a foreign land. The Company will pay the cost of the ladies' dowry and travel. Returns not permitted, orphans preferred.

Amsterdam, 1616. Jana Beil has learned that life rarely provides moments of joy. Having run away from a violent father, her days are spent searching for work in an effort to stay out of the city brothels, where desperate women trade their bodies for a mouthful of bread. But when Jana is hired as a servant for the wealthy and kind Master Reynst and his beautiful daughter Sontje, Jana’s future begins to look brighter.

Then Master Reynst loses his fortune on a bad investment, and everything changes. The house is sold to creditors, leaving Jana back on the streets and Sontje without a future.

With no other choice, Jana and Sontje are forced to sign with the East India Company as Company Daughters: sailing to a colonial outpost to become the brides of male settlers they know nothing about. With fear in their hearts, the girls begin their journey – but what awaits them on the other side of the world is nothing like what they’ve been promised…

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 18 years of age due to drug and alcohol use / violence and/or sexual content in a genre not specified as Erotic.


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