An excellent, thought-provoking and ultimately heartwarming read, this is a work of historical fiction about women and the vote. I had enjoyed one of Evans’ previous novels, Crooked Heart, so I already knew that she has a brilliant way with words and is skilled at portraying authentic historical characters and settings.
Old Baggage follows Mattie, a former militant suffragette who in 1928 is not giving up the fight. This is the year that universal suffrage laws will be enacted in the UK. Mattie is an outspoken, no-nonsense character who is inspired to start a group for girls to learn practical skills in the context of female independence and to form political opinions. She lives with her long-time friend, fellow suffragette The Flea, who is quiet and logical – Mattie’s opposite. The story is about the ups and downs of their friendship and also the girls whom Mattie is trying to shape into the next generation of women, who unlike previous generations will have equal voting rights to men.
I enjoyed everything about this book and was completely absorbed in the memorable characters and the issues they faced. I read most of it in one day, while on the train. Lissa Evans really brought the world of these early feminists to life. Highly recommended.
First published in 2018.