Friday, January 21, 2022

#MacmillanAudio Review of Maiden Voyages by Siân Evans


Today I reach back into my audio backlist for a #Macmillan Audio of Maiden Voyages, I started this ages ago but for some reason didn't finish it until recently. Life I guess

Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: 8-10-2021
Length: 10hours & 45minutes
Source: Publisher/Netgalley for review
Buy It: Audible



In an engaging and anecdotal social history, Siân Evans's Maiden Voyages explores how women’s lives were transformed by the Golden Age of ocean liner travel between Europe and North America.

During the early 20th century, transatlantic travel was the province of the great ocean liners. It was an extraordinary undertaking made by many women, whose lives were changed forever by their journeys between the Old World and the New. Some traveled for leisure, some for work; others to reinvent themselves or find new opportunities. They were celebrities, migrants and millionaires, refugees, aristocrats and crew members whose stories have mostly remained untold - until now.

Maiden Voyages is a fascinating portrait of these women as they crossed the Atlantic. 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. In first class you’ll meet A-listers like Marlene Dietrich, Wallis Simpson, and Josephine Baker; the second class carried a new generation of professional and independent women, like pioneering interior designer Sibyl Colefax. Down in steerage, you’ll follow the journey of émigré Maria Riffelmacher as she escapes poverty in Europe. Bustling between decks is a crew of female workers, including Violet “The Unsinkable Stewardess” Jessop, who survived the Titanic disaster.

Entertaining and informative, Maiden Voyages captures the golden age of ocean liners through the stories of the women whose transatlantic journeys changed the shape of society on both sides of the globe.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press

My Macmillan Audio Review:

Maiden Voyages
Siân Evans


Siân Evans Maiden Voyages tells the actual tales of the amazing accomplishments of real women who traversed the open seas during the height of Trans-Atlantic ocean liner travel. Some of these women are wealthy passengers, some are employed by the various lines, some you will know by name and some you will be introduced to for the first time during this book, but all will leave you knowing them just a little better for their individual contributions to the golden age of traveling the vast oceans.

The historical accuracy and research is impeccable full of facts giving the audience little known details of how the first women infiltrated the once all-male crew and how they became not only important but essential to the running of these behemoths traversing the oceans.

 Plus readers will meet and get to know the stewardess who survived the Titanic the Brittania and was on board the Olympic when it collided with a British Warship, Violet Jessop who is often called the Unsinkable Stewardess.

But it’s not only about the employees the book covers passengers from first class like Wallace Simpson and Josephine Baker to steerage and readers will get a birds-eye view of the opulence of first class and the cramped quarters of the lower-class cabins.

Fans of strong women of history, trans-Atlantic ocean liner travel and non-fiction history will really enjoy this.

The narration by Jilly Bond is clear and factual but because of the wordiness of the book it tends to be rather boring to listen to so for this instance and with no fault of the narrator reading it may be a better choice.



“Maiden Voyages splices together intriguing personalities in extraordinary settings sailing through dramatic times, a tale well worth the fare.” –Air Mail

"[A] bracing history...Evans intersperses these eventful histories with splashes of color about [women] who used the sea as a magic carpet to self-invention." --The New York Times

“Engaging and accessible... Evans' decision to investigate stories of enormous personal transformation is a fruitful way to explore the impact of broader social changes.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Thoroughly captivating...First-hand accounts bring an immediacy to the never-ending action, and Evans is a good storyteller, deftly weaving individual women's adventures into contemporary current events.” –Booklist

“Women’s history buffs and readers who enjoyed Erik Larson’s Dead Wake will have a bon voyage.” –Publishers Weekly

About the author:
Siân Evans is a Welsh historical author, journalist, and film consultant, known for her guidebooks for the National Trust, of which she has written seven, and her works of social and cultural history.


  1. That sounds like a book I would probably enjoy.

  2. Sounds different but really interesting history. How travel has changed since! I love that women took up their roles on the ships. Go women!

  3. Yes, that sounds fascinating. Glad you put it on my radar, Debbie!

  4. Surviving Titanic and then working on a ship again!

  5. This one is new to me but it sounds really interesting. Great review!