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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.3 out of 5
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  • This book was in one word wonderful.

    Company Daughters is a Brilliant historical Fiction. It's the tale of two women who are shipped off across the globe to be brides of unknown Dutch East Indies Company associates in Batavia(modern day Jakarta). An absorbing, gripping, heartbreaking tale with blend of unique and complex characters, highlighting the struggles of being a women in 17th century. Various aspects of human emotions and hardships were splendidly demonstrated. Poverty, Discrimination,Racism, Misogyny, Sexism and other social anarchy of 17th Century Dutch Colony was potrayed perfectly. The way the author put emphasis on these factors is highly appreciated. The story is so unpredictable, you'll never really know for sure what the writer is planning next. Everytime I was amazed by her skills, considering it's her debut novel it's really incredible. I was so captivated in the story of both the girls and what was stored for them. I honestly didn't see the plot unwinding like this, it was totally unexpected, still amazingly presented by the Author. The characters Jana, Sontje, Mattheus and Tobias were seriously notable. I adored Jana's Courage, Love, Integrity and Determination. I wish Tobias was more included in the story. Nevertheless and amazing book indeed.

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  • Fabulous!

    What a fabulous story this is - not only does it give life to another period in history, it takes you on a fantastic adventure to faraway places. The descriptions are so vivid you live every part of this story - you see what the characters see, feel what they feel, hear what they hear. I went through all the emotions - happy, sad, shocked, angry and a whole lot more. With a compelling storyline, this is a book to immerse yourself in. Perfect escapism and one of my top historical reads this year.

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  • Strong Willed Woman

    The Company Daughters is a beautifully written love story and a testimonial to the struggle of women throughout time to find their own voices and place in society. The setting is Denmark early 17th century where we meet our narrator Jana Beil. She is a young girl who has escaped her abusive family home on the outskirts of Amsterdam. She is struggling to survive and feed herself in the dead of an Amsterdam winter. She at first is lured into what she believes out of her young immaturity to be a stranger leading her to a safe place to find work, but instead finds herself a worker in the oldest occupation females were able to hold, prostitution. She spends years at the brothel until she finally makes her escape with only the clothes on her back. Jana finds herself on the doorstep of a wealthy family in Amsterdam begging for service work in exchange for food and board. Here she meets Sontje, the lady of the house, who introduces her to her father, Peiter Reynst. From the very beginning of their meeting Sontje is the spoiled rich girl with servants and nice clothes and she treats Jana as just another servant in her household. Jana tries not to let Sontje's judgments get to her by forgiving her thinking she is the way she is because of the way she has grown up. Sontje and Jana couldn't be from two more different worlds. Jana finds her place comfortably in the Reynst household keeping their home clean. She even feels a sense of belonging when Mr. Reynst shares his skill of map reading with her. No one ever tried to teach Jana anything and this attention makes her feel like a person with worth. Sontje even warms up to Jana asking her questions about her life and how it is to live not knowing from one day to the next where you will eat or sleep. At first, Jana takes offense to these questions thinking that Sontje is just ridiculing her as usual, but then comes to understand that she genuinely wants to know about Jana's life. At this point Jana begins to have feelings for Sontje and begins imagining how sweet her lips would taste. Sontje, however, has no eyes or time for Jana. Sontje has a suitor and is looking forward to her upcoming engagement. Mr. Reynst, being a member of a ship company, is busy readying a ship for an upcoming voyage that is going to make them even richer and more famous throughout Amsterdam. Unfortunately, Mr. Reynst ship sinks on its maiden voyage taking Mr. Reynst whole fortune and all of Sontje's future with it. Once news gets back to Amsterdam of the ship sinking Sontje finds herself abandoned by her fiancé and her father falls into an alcoholic stupor ultimately causing his death. Jana once again finds herself without a home or food for her belly and Sontje finds herself just like Jana, no home, no money and no future. Sontje sees her only way of hope being to take an offer by the company her father worked for as a "company daughter". These women are mainly orphans with no family ties that are shipped off to a colony owned by the Dutch called Batavia. The company promises these young girls a dowry, as well as, the cost of their passage and a husband and a new life in a place way away from Amsterdam. The voyage takes ten months and during this time Jana and Sontje form a beautiful relationship, they come to understand that the heart loves who the heart loves no matter the gender, race or class of a person. The love these two share is so beautiful but at the same time unfortunate because they have to hide their love from everyone else’s judgment. It is a sad thought that after four hundred years there are still people in our society that have to hide their love for one another because their relationship is not of the "norm". The company daughters arrive in Batavia and are soon sold off to their husbands. Sontje is taken first and receives a hateful husband that is an outcast from the rest of the colony. Jana is then taken by an older man that she is revolted by but comes to admire for his wisdom. Jana pines for Sontje, her heart is completely broken, and she never sees her because her husband doesn't allow her out in public. Jana soon confides in her husband her love for Sontje, and her husband forbids her to have anything more to do with Sontje telling her that the only thing she can do now is to forget her completely. Jana tries but her heart has found the person it loves and she cannot just forget her. Jana goes through so much in this novel. Once her life looks like she may have a moment of happiness something tragic always happens. Instead of Jana focusing on all of the horrible situations she finds herself in and the heartbreak she experiences, she tries to focus on the good things she has in her life no matter how small or trivial they may seem to the reader. Jana's character is a perfect example of the power of human will and the endurance and hope that love can give a person.

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  • Great book, heartwarming and informative

    It is Amsterdam in 1616, and life definitely keeps young women on their toes. It was not just women that had it hard, but anyone without money, or a job struggled, and there was no social assistance to help. Women, like main character Jana, worked hard to take care of themselves to stop from ending up in brothels. Jana finds a job working for Master Reynst, a merchant ship owner. His daughter Sontje is a similar age to Jana and she needs a maid. Unfortunately, soon after, the wealthy ship owner loses everything when the ship carrying everthing is lost and his money is gone too. Sontje is suddenly no longer privileged. The two women stay together, and answer the call to be wives to the men who work for the Company in Jakarta. It’s a tough life, but the strong survive. The Company paid the women’s dowry and the ten month voyage to Indonesia. The women who accepted the call could not come back, and so women who had no family or other prospects were preferred 
The voyage from Amsterdam to Jakarta is very long, and not at all easy. Many women got sick on the way, and the sailors on the boat were cruel at times. Conquering the unknown is sometimes done through cruelty and torture, and that made this book difficult. Throughout this book, the women found strength from each other and from within themselves. When they arrive in Jakarta they are given to husbands and make their way. Sontje and Jana are given to men, and Jana fares better than Sontje does. Sontje and Jana fall in love with each other, and become each other’s support My thoughts The author wanted to write an historical novel about the Dutch women in the early 1600’s who were sent to marry the Dutch settlers in Jakarta. She imagined their terror and the adventure they must have experienced, willingly sold like slaves, in their new unknown land.This book was beautiful, but hard to read in places. Jana learns a great deal from her husband, and they respect each other. Sontje and her man don’t have as good a relationship and the contrast between the two lives is shown. I enjoyed this book, and it gave me so much to think about and I always appreciate books that really put the reader into an accurate historical context. It was a love story of a different kind. It wasn’t a boy meets girl romance, but a beautiful story of female friends, husband and wives who work together as friends, as wives, mothers and sons, and support for people we care about. This book is published today, and I want to say congratulations to Samantha Rajaram who provided me with a wonderful picture in historical context, and partly answered my questions, that I have always had, about what makes some people with power kind and others cruel. Thanks to #NetGalley for the ARC

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  • Histoical Fiction - Dutch Batavia - 1600's

    The Company Daughters by Samantha Rajaram Ten months on a boat hoping to reach a life better than the one you left behind cannot have been easy in the 1600’s but perhaps a better option than working in a brothel…or so thought Sontje Reynst and Jana Beil. Their journey was arduous, constrictive, perilous, and created long-lasting friendships that they would need when they arrived in Batavia, now Jakarta. What I liked: * Jana: strong, intelligent, gifted, hard worker, a survivor – I liked her grit, stamina, and ability to thrive wherever she was. * Sontje: a good friend to Jana, calm, cool, docile, did what she had to. * The feel and voice of the story were true to the times * The ability to look at without trivializing difficult topics (poverty, slavery, abuse, rape, physical violation, treatment of indigenous people, disease, death, and more) * Learning more about the era and lives of women * Wondering how I would have dealt with what the main characters were presented with * Trying to decide if this would be suitable to read for YA students and the discussions it could provide – the writing was such that it would be easy enough for them to read but some of the topics might disturb or be inappropriate…maybe? What I didn’t like: * Knowing that this story is based on facts – and the lives of women, indigenous people, slaves and others was not easy. Did I enjoy this book? Yes Would I read more by this author? Yes Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the ARC – This is my honest review. 4-5 Stars

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