Friday 22 September 2017

Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nichols

Things a Bright Girl Can DoThrough rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.

Evelyn is seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Enraged that she is expected to marry her childhood sweetheart rather than be educated, she joins the Suffragettes, and vows to pay the ultimate price for women's freedom.

May is fifteen, and already sworn to the cause, though she and her fellow Suffragists refuse violence. When she meets Nell, a girl who's grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women have their place.

But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they ever could believe. As war looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice?

Evelyn, May and Nell come from very different backgrounds and have different ideals, but all are impressed with the Suffrage movement, all desperate to change what it means to be a woman. As these three move about their lives, grow up and fall in love, they come to realise that their childish ideals of a perfect world require a bit more hard work. 

It was incredibly clever and informative without being too imposing - it gave a very good impression of what life was actually like in the 1910's, not knowing the significance of larger events, just going about daily life. As a bit of a history nerd, I adored reading about their lives, how each family worked and lived a slightly different way but all wanted a better life. 

I fell in love with all of them, and especially appreciated how each young woman encompassed a different value of the Suffragettes. Nell, used to wearing her brother's hand-me-downs, was hard working and tough and wanted what was best for her large family. When she meets May, their differences seem hardly important and they fall head over heels - which was not only adorable but so unique in a historical fiction, I nearly cried! It was just May and her mother, both Quakers and pacifists, who have differing opinions to the rest of the country when war is declared. Evelyn is determined to have the same opportunities as her older brother and wants to study at university, whereas her parents want her to marry. 

As I said, they might be different women on the outside but all three just wanted a world that treated them fairly. It was just fascinating to read about women with their feet on the ground, as it were, in the midst of the Suffrage movement and the first year of the Great War. Definitely a new favourite and one I will be happily recommending. 

Published 7th September 2017 by Anderson. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

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