28 December 2018
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
During the eventful years of the suffragette movement, Matilda Simpkin was a fully fledged member of the organisation and has medals to prove it, but in the 1920s Matilda now finds that her life is uneventful. When she discovers something from her past it spurs her into action as she recognises that despite all the suffragette's hard work and the sacrifices they made, things remain largely unchanged, and girls are growing up without ambition. Matilda forms a girls club which she appropriately names the Amazons and sets to work instilling strong values into this group of young women.
It's interesting to see Matilda's character emerge as there are still glimpses of what she was like as a younger woman, idealistic, purposeful and driven by a strong sense of belief in the rights for women. The momentous time she spent as a militant suffragette has, without doubt, shaped her personality and the terrible losses she suffered have made her into the strong character who comes to life so forcibly in this novel. I think in Old Baggage we get to know and understand her so well, her character literally leaps off the page and comes to glorious life.
The eponymous old baggage of the story intrigued me as I wasn't quite sure what this referred to and yet, by the end of the novel I could well see how the term could be interpreted in several ways and was a clever play on Matilda's life and the complications she would always carry with her.
I found much to enjoy in reading this story, it's a charmingly eccentric and old fashioned glimpse into a forgotten world but with a powerful reminder of just what the women of the suffragette movement achieved against all the odds.
About the Author
Lissa's previous novel, Their Finest Hour and a Half was long listed for the Orange Prize and made into a 2017 britflick sensation Their Finest starring Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy. Her last novel, Crooked Heart was longlisted for the Bailey's Prize for Fiction . She lives in London.
Twitter @LissaKEvans #OldBaggage