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THE WATERMILL BOOK CLUB - ANNE DE COURCY

Tue 19 Mar 2013

THE FISHING FLEET
Husband-Hunting in the Raj

From the late 19th century, when the Raj was at its height, many of Britain’s best and brightest young men went out to India to work as administrators, soldiers and businessmen. With the advent of steam travel and the opening of the Suez Canal, countless young women, suffering at the lack of eligible men in Britain, followed in their wake, their undeclared goal was simply to find a husband. They were known as ‘the Fishing Fleet’, and this book is their story, hitherto untold.

By the early twentieth century, a hectic social scene was in place, with dances, parties, amateur theatricals, picnics, tennis tournaments, cinemas, gymkhanas with perhaps a tiger shoot and a glittering dinner at a raja’s palace thrown in. 

Romances were conducted at alarming speed and marriages were frequent. But after the honeymoon life often changed dramatically: whisked off to a remote outpost with few other Europeans for company and where constant vigilance was required to guard against disease, they found it a far cry from the social whirlwind of their first arrival.

Anne de Courcy’s sparkling narrative is enriched by a wealth of first-hand sources - unpublished memoirs, letters and diaries rescued from attics - which bring this forgotten era vividly to life.

Anne de Courcy, is a well-known writer and journalist, whose books include The English in Love; 1939: The Last Season (reissued 2003), Debs at War (2005) and Snowdon (2008).

Tickets: £5

"The Fishing Fleet is an entertaining, richly detailed account of a world that vanished overnight in 1947 with independence."  THE SUNDAY TIMES

"This book is highly evocative... De Courcy takes the reader through an enchanted world." THE GUARDIAN

1.30pm