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The Company Daughters

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  818 ratings  ·  158 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 385 pages
Published October 30th 2020 by Bookouture
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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Nov 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Based on facts, the book describes the fate of young women who in the 17th century decide or are forced to decide, to spend ten months on Dutch East India Company ships that take them to Batavia, modern Jakarta.
The act of human, or rather sex, trafficing, is a shameless crime, however, in those days, agreeing to become wives of the Dutch settlers was the alternative for those females who were orphans, had no support in family, and the only option was starvation or prostitution. Some of the fema
Lou (nonfiction fiend)
The Company Daughters is Samantha Rajaram’s heartfelt debut and a work of historical literary fiction that is richly-imagined, based on a true story and impeccably researched. It is the story of Jana Beil, a servant in seventeenth-century Amsterdam who, alongside her companion Sontje Reynst, signs up to be a ‘company daughter’ – a mail-order bride dispatched to settlers in the far Dutch colonial East Indies. Based on true history, these two women undertake a dangerous and deadly sea journey to t ...more
4.5 stars

Jana Biel has led a hard life. On her own at an early age she has been judged and defined by her circumstances. She has learned how to survive against the odds and make the most of her situation. Work hard, keep your head down, keep your past to yourself. At all costs protect your heart.

Over the course of the novel we see her growth and to some extent Sontje’s as well. The two women experience many hardships, but through it all there is light in Rajaram’s words. I was moved by the subve
Diana Green
Jul 03, 2021 rated it liked it
The unique cover and concept drew me in, as well as the promise of a critically acclaimed wlw historical novel. And I will say, the writing was of high quality. The characters were especially well-drawn, and I absolutely cared about them.

That said, I was deeply sorry that the author chose to go the "tragic love" route for these two women. I felt they deserved better, and I'm just so tired of mainstream literary fiction that feels it necessary to kill off one of the lovers in any same sex couple.
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-reads-2020
I found this to be a very absorbing and page turning read that I just couldn't put down. I can never resist historical books about ordinary women in difficult situations and have read many books about mail order brides and settlers in new territories overseas.

However this one manages to be quite a bit different, it begins in 17th century Amsterdam, features a wonderful heroine Jana, who drags herself up by the bootstraps ending up in service to the enigmatic Sontje and her kindly father.

When tr
Sydney Young
Gorgeously told, a mesmerizing story

I’ve never read a book which takes place in Indonesia, and I absolutely loved encountering that world, as well as the world of the Dutch East Indies and its ships. The bonus here is a story which flows forth in a mesmerizing voice, shedding light on unfortunate Dutch females in that world. The Dutch practice of looking away, in order to basically deny hard facts, rings true even today in my society. As does the fact the women and children suffer because of it.
Joseph - Relax And Read Reviews
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Being a keen reader of historical novels, I jumped at the opportunity to read this new book by a debut author, and a few pages in I was already hooked. This is a book unlike anything else I read before.

This is the story of two young women living in 17th century Amsterdam. At the time, the Dutch Empire occupied vast Asian territories among others, including present-day Jakarta, at the time known as Batavia, the capital of the Dutch East Indies.

The book starts with these two girls meeting for the
Lauren (Pip)
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I do not usually read sad books, in fact, I actively avoid them. However, I love historical fiction so I decided to pick this one up. It was kindly given to me as an ARC through NetGalley, but all opinions are my own. I am so glad I decided to read this. This book is so stunningly tender and beautiful, all mixed in with some seriously tragic and heart-wrenching events.
This story follows two women in colonial-era Amsterdam, and later Batavia. It deals with some heavy themes such as sexism, colou
Kirsty Bookworm86
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Title: The Company Daughters
Author: Samantha Rajaram
Publication Day: Oct 30th 2020


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 lady’s dowry and travel. Returns not permitted, orphans preferred.

Amsterdam, 1620. 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 th
Nov 04, 2020 rated it liked it
"Half-light and half-darkness. Like the best of lives."

Amsterdam, 1616, Jana Beil has worked hard to survive. Now, after tragedy leaves her without a position as a servant, she decides to accept the offer presented by the Dutch East Indies Company, or V.O.C. The Company will send her to Batavia on a long, dangerous journey by ship to become the bride of a settler in this Asian colony. Longing for security and a future, these Company Daughters will be married off to strange men and begin a new li
Judith Wagner
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fictional story of a group of young women, brought to the Dutch East Indies in the 1600s from Amsterdam as Company Daughters, a historically real program that provided wives for Dutch colonists. I was impressed with the novel's development of strong characters and believable setting, in a time and place so distant from ours. I am also fascinated by the process of research, which the author says something about in "A Letter from Samantha" at the end of the book. When I read historical fiction fro ...more
Janna G. Noelle
May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2021
When homeless, starving Jana Beil turns up at the home of wealthy Sontje Reynst and her father in 17th century Amsterdam begging for food and work, she is employed as a maid, and an uneasy friendship develops between the two young women despite—or perhaps because of—there unequal status. Time passes and Jana becomes captivated by her elegant mistress in a way she can't entirely articulate to herself. When the fortunes of the Reynst family take a dramatic turn, Jana's feelings are powerful enough ...more
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Life has not always been easy for Jana Beil. She is only a young girl when she escapes the clutches of her violent father. Jana rather be in the streets and hungry than living with a drunk and abusive man. This leads Her hungry most nights, sleeping in alleyways with rats and other bugs. Finally, having enough, Jana sets out to find a job and after the 18th door is knocked she lands herself a servant position with the Reynst family. Master Reynst and his daughter Sonjte are kind to Jana and so s ...more
Cathy Geha
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
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,
Toni Kely-Brown
After living in The Netherlands for 6 months when I was a university student, I'm always interested in reading books set in The Netherlands, especially historical fiction and particularly about the Dutch East India Company.

This book is set in three parts. The first is set in Amsterdam in 1616 where Jana is a servant in a merchant's household. The daughter is Sontje and after her father loses all his wealth she is poverty stricken due to his debts and her fiancee breaks off their engagement. She
Corinne Rodrigues
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is essentially a tale of how women are often treated as commodities. This is true all through history. Even as I was reading this beautiful story, I thought of the millions of women in India and around the world who continue to be forced by circumstances and culture to marry men they do not know and move to lands that are so alien to them. But even more than that this is a story of survival, grit, determination and the ability to rise above and even triumph over adverse circumstances.

Jennifer Hill
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Company’s Daughter

‘The Company Daughters’ tells the story of Jana who is sent off to Batavia to be married and finds herself on a discovery of love and life.

‘The Company Daughters’ is loosely based off the real life story of the Company Daughters who used to take the daunting 10 month journey from Amsterdam to Batavia in the seventeenth century to be married off.

Women during those times were married off and didn’t get much say in any decisions. It was a time when women had no choice but to
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Company Daughters by @samantha.r.reader - ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Changing pace a little from all the gothic and fantasy fiction I’ve been reading recently, this beautiful historical novel is out on Friday - thanks so much to @bookouture and @netgalley for my advanced copy. Do go and pre-order it now - it’s just 99p I’m the Kindle store today!

The Company Daughters takes us from the cold, conformist streets of Amsterdam across the seas to brilliant blue skies Batavia with the Company Daughters, young women -
Kaffeeklatsch and Books
This was a great and immersive read. The tone and Dutch setting reminded me a lot of "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" by Tracy Chevalier.
The Dutch words throughout bthe book sometimes kicked me out of the writing and I think I would've preferred less of them.
Topics are quite harrowing at times and range from sex trafficking, rape, abuse, violence and extreme poverty to lots of death.
Nevertheless a good read I can recommend to any historical fiction fan, who likes F/F romance/relationship.
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's odd how we learn to like certain things because we are expected to. Makes me wonder sometimes if I truly like anything I think I like.I was immediately drawn in by the cover and then locked in by the synopsis. I love historical settings, places, and times I didn't get to see or experience. Once you bite into the cake that's called historical-fiction, you're forever hungry for more.

Inspired by real events and a time when women were bought and sold like objects and transported to Batavia, a
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Check out the full review on my website. CLICK HERE




DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley and Bookouture for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

The Company Daughters is a sweeping tale of what it means to be a woman in a world where the odds are always stacked against them. Samantha Rajaram is, without a doubt, talented in spinning stories by drawing inspiration from real-life events.
Emma Shaw
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"But having lived through so much upheaval, I doubt I will ever know the full taste of safety. I'm forever assuming some future disaster. Reading myself to flee."

Jana Beil has not had an easy or happy life. She's fought to survive, escaping violence and neglect only to find herself homeless and starving on the streets of Amsterdam in the late 17th century. She is grateful to find employment in the home of Master Reynst and his daughter, Sontje, but tragedy strikes when Reynst loses everything af
Maria Dong
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book about love, power, shame, adventure, and everything else it means to be a woman.

"Three knocks on the door. I use the knuckle of my forefinger, quiet but distinct.




From the moment I read the lyrical prose of this striking opening, I was absolutely enraptured by this book. THE COMPANY DAUGHTERS was an emotional epic I couldn't put down--I was transported by the lush description, the heart-breaking characterization, and the smooth yet gripping plot that was firmly grounded in hi
Azure | Ragamuffin Rio
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, netgalley
Six girls, mostly orphans, are sent to Batavia to marry the men of the East India Company. Jana is a survivor and quite lonely so when she falls is love she wants to hold on to it. Even if that means marrying a stranger to stay near Sontje, the woman she loves. Along the way she experiences love, heartbreak and grief, while finding family, freedom and purpose.

When I read historical fiction I try to go in with no expectations and just enjoy the journey. That was so easy to do with "The Company Da
Nov 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: e-books
The Company Daughters by Samantha Rajaram

In early 1600s the Dutch East Indies Company had the beginnings of a booming trade industry between their new colony of Batavia and the rest of the world. As the new colony grew, their attempt to model it after their loved homeland of Amsterdam began to falter, due to the lack of women. Their solution - seek young orphaned females to send to Batavia. Their passage and dowry paid in exchange for their marriage to a colonist upon arrival. These girls were c
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an absolute gem of a book and I was delighted to have been approved for it. So excited it went straight to the top of my reading list.

I came across this novel on Twitter and after reading the synopsis decided I had to read it. I had never heard of women being transported to Batavia (now Jakarta) to start married life with Company husbands in the colony.

It’s a rough story – Jana and her friend Sontje who come from different backgrounds and different beginnings, but both take the perilous
BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books)
This was an absolutely beautifully written, stunningly captivating story! Rajaram has a way with words. The descriptions put the reader right there with the characters. You can taste the salt in the air and feel the hunger pains along with the characters.

This story is perfect for readers that enjoy historical fiction. This does have some pretty strong content that I want to warn people about. There are multiple instances of rape and the after-effects both physically and mentally. There is slave
Stacy Menendez
May 30, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic view into 1600's Amsterdam and the long-dissolved country of Batavia.

Short synopsis:

An abused 18 year old girl travels to Batavia via ship, the conditions of which are horrifying, on a months-long journey to follow a woman with whom she has fallen in love.

A premier shipping company decided to take women (for a fee) to the newly colonized country of Batavia to marry and procreate with Dutchmen who had colonized the island.

It tells of conditions women endure in Amsterdam and B
Sherry Chiger
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hard to believe this is a debut novel: The writing is so assured and descriptive, the plotting so tight, the characterizations so believable. The story also benefits from a setting relatively unknown to most of us in the West (or at least to me): colonial Batavia, or what is now Jakarta, Indonesia. The primary reason I'm giving it four rather than five stars is that I felt somewhat distanced from some of the most pivotal moments. That could be just me, or it could have been in keeping with the n ...more
Janilyn Kocher
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Company Daughters is a creative novel. I love reading colonial history and this one has many interesting twists. I admired Jana's strength. Whatever life threw at her she met the challenges. She grabbed at happiness to emigrate to the Dutch colony of Batavia. I liked her relationship with the local native women and how they formed a business together. I think that was the best part of the book. Rajaram capture the voices of seventeenth century characters very well with all of the highlights, ...more
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