I am surrounded by men, as I was the day I arrived in this place ... We step into the courtroom together, though we are anything but equals...
In 1806, a fateful decision sends Eleanor Marling from the salons of London to a prison ship bound for New South Wales. She is put to work at the female factory of Parramatta, where the women’s only hope of food and lodgings is to offer their bodies to the settlement’s men.
Nell is given shelter by Lieutenant Blackwell, a brooding soldier to whom she is inexplicably drawn. Despite warnings from the other women, Blackwell’s motives seem decent, and beneath the roof of a military officer, Nell sees a chance to become more than just a convict woman sent to the factory to be forgotten.
But tensions are high in New South Wales, with the young colony teetering on the edge of a convict rebellion. And as Nell treads a dangerous line between obedience and power, she learns the role of a factory lass is to remain silent – or face a walk to the gallows.
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