Sian Rees has written an extremely readable book, which is not in the least 'dry' or 'dusty' although it is history.
The Floating Brothel of the title is the ship 'The Lady Julian' used to transport 250 female prisoners to Australia in the late 18th century. It is quite horrifying to see how these some of these women could be sentenced to seven years 'in land beyond the seas' for what today would be classed as minor misdemeanours.
However, the women aboard the Lady Julian were more fortunate than many being aboard a ship with a decent, honest agent and captain to ensure their welfare was taken care of. Many of them became 'wives' to the crew for the duration of the voyage, which of course gave them certain advantages. Nonetheless this book still manages to convey the horror of this punishment and the harsh conditions of the day.
Sian Rees manages to inject a little humour at times (such as the antics of some of the women in Tenerife) which provides a welcome relief and stops the book becoming too grim. She also adds some nice touches of history by recounting snippets about Captain Cook and Lieutenant Bligh and the Bounty.
This is a good account of crime, punishment and survival in Georgian England and well worth a read.