An eclectic selection of ten stories published to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage from both awardwinning and debut authors. Some stories are based on real people, others are period pieces or set in contemporary times but each features strong women and girls who are determined to bring about change.
The opening story by Sally Nicholls, Out for the Count, is particularly resonant featuring a mother and her two daughters, the cook and the governess defying the 1911 census by camping out on the moors. M.G. Leonard’s story The Bug Hunters features a pair of insect loving girls who defy the bullies in their class by showing there is nothing to fear from insects. Patrice Lawrence’s All Things Bright and Beautiful set in the Hackney slums is the vivid and heartwrenching tale of two young sisters running the gamut of rent sharks and finally finding help and solace with a women’s rights campaigner from Lahore. A bright young girl working in service is inspired by the words on the green and purple WSPU tea service to educate herself in Katherine Woodfine’s Tea and Jam. Jeanne Willis’s story On Your Bike is set in Boston in 1894 where feisty Annie takes on a wager to prove that that a woman can cycle round the world and be as good as any man facing dangers, and shocking people by riding in her bloomers along the way.
Some of the stories are a little uneven in places but the scope and breadth of this excellent collection should inspire young people to continue the fight for equality and for women’s voices to be heard. It would be a useful starting point for discussion too.