Charlotte Badger became the first white woman to live in New Zealand, after taking part in a mutiny which followed two vicious floggings on board a civilian cargo ship. This novel recreates the adventurous life of this remarkable woman fugitive, her daughter, and their fellow mutineers. Escaping from Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales after commandeering the colonial brig, the Venus, the mutineers settle for an initially peaceful life with the Maoris in New Zealand. But simmering tensions within their group eventually burst into the open. The peace is shattered and escape to America is the only chance of survival. But how many will reach America? This is Charlotte's story, telling the reader in her own voice, the shock of being condemned to transportation, the drudgery of work in the Female Factory, the delight of little Anny, the baby at her breast, and the companionship of fellow convicts and the crew of the Venus, relaxing in the evening, singing on deck en route to Van Diemen's Land.
Charlotte tells also of the cruel master of the Venus, who delighted in flogging Charlotte and her Irish friend and fellow convict, Kitty; of the terror of a wild storm at sea; escaping from the Maori war canoes, and the antagonism that builds up among the mutineers. This is a story of courage, of determination and a mother's love for her child.