This book was an unqualified delight. Set in 1928 and 1929, it focuses on the life of Mattie Simpkin. Mattie lives in Hampstead and is a former militant suffragette, whose vociferous and committed campaigning for the cause of votes and equal representation and entitlement for women, had seen her imprisoned on five occasions. Now nearing sixty, Mattie's zest for life and her ardour for fairness and equality in life remain undimmed, although they are seldom appreciated by her neighbours. She regularly expounds her views, and lifestyle tips, through her weekly column in the local paper, the Hampstead and Highgate Express, and she is a familiar figure striding purposefully across Hampstead Heath. Indeed, as the novel opens, she is engaged in one such walk, rendered more memorable when a man lopes past and snatches her bag before running off at a great pace. Ever resourceful, Mattie burrows in her pocket where she finds a miniature bottle of whisky, which she hurls with unexpected vigour at her assailant. Unfortunately, the bottle misses its intended target, with consequences that will resonate throughout the rest of the story. Mattie is a beautifully crafted character, as is 'The Flea', her companion, and Lissa Evans uses them to paint a vivid picture of the Suffragette campaign. As a leading figure in the long struggle for female enfranchisement, Mattie and the Flea had encountered all of the leading Suffragette figures, including the Pankhurst family. Relations between some of the former campaigners are no longer always amicable, and as Mattie endeavours to encourage the Amazons, a troupe of local girls whom she is seeking to engage in a range of educative and improving activities, she finds herself reluctantly drawn into competition with a former Suffragette colleague who has established a similar band of followers whom she is attempting to inculcate with Imperial aspirations. Lissa Evans scores a great success, combining a brief history of the Women's Suffrage movement, close observation of the trials of life for large families during the depressed inter-war years, and a heart-warming story about keeping one's earlier principles alive as one ages. Lest that make the novel sound too dry and self-righteous, nothing could be further from the truth. Evans delivers her story with a light touch, and great humour, in a thoroughly enchanting prose style. This was one of those books where the desire to hurry on to finish it to see how the various threads of the story might be resolved competed with the desire to slow down in order to savour the experience for as long as possible.
About This Item
#1 UK Bestseller
"A thoughtful, funny, companionable novel...executed with verve."--London Times
The author of the acclaimed Crooked Heart returns with a comic, charming, and surprisingly timely portrait of a once pioneering suffragette trying to find her new passion in post-WWI era London.
1928. Riffling through a cupboard, Matilda Simpkin comes across a small wooden club--an old possession that she hasn't seen for more than a decade. Immediately, memories come flooding back to Mattie--memories of a thrilling past, which only further serve to remind her of her chafingly uneventful present. During the Women's Suffrage Campaign, she was a militant who was jailed five times and never missed an opportunity to return to the fray. Now in middle age, the closest she gets to the excitement of her old life is the occasional lecture on the legacy of the militant movement.
After running into an old suffragette comrade who has committed herself to the wave of Fascism, Mattie realizes there is a new cause she needs to fight for and turns her focus to a new generation of women. Thus the Amazons are formed, a group created to give girls a place to not only exercise their bodies but their minds, and ignite in young women a much-needed interest in the world around them. But when a new girl joins the group, sending Mattie's past crashing into her present, every principle Mattie has ever stood for is threatened.
Old Baggage is a funny and bittersweet portrait of a woman who has never given up the fight and the young women who are just discovering it.
-- Publishers Weekly(1) Additional Product Details - Product Type: Quality Paperback Books // Binding: Paperback // Subject: Fiction - General > Literary > Humorous - Black Humor > Historical - General // Size: 7.90 x 5.30 // Large Print: N // Contributors: Evans, Lissa, , // EAN: 9780062895448 // ISBN: 0062895443 // Returnable: Y // Media Item: Y // Imprintable: // Indexable: // Publication Date: 2019-04-16 // Religious Item: N (2)
A Leaphorn and Chee Novel
|Number of Pages|
|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)|
9.00 x 6.00 x 1.50 Inches
This book was an unqua...
This is a book about s...
This is a book about strong women--particularly one Matilda Simpkin, former militant suffragette, now of a certain age and determined to pass her philosophy on to a new generation. She does so through the formation of a girls' club that's part Girl Guides, part Socrates, and part hare-brained but organized chaos. On the surface, this is an easy and sometimes hilarious read; once you ponder it, you'll discover a silver mine of deeper ideas that deserve your attention as well.
This novel is a bit sl...
This novel is a bit slow to start and a bit rushed at the ending, but the pages in between make the reading very worthwhile! Written in the style of a novel from the early 1900's, the period in which it is set, Old Baggage is the story of an aging suffragette in London in the years between the World Wars. Reflecting on her life and searching for a new way to find meaning, protagonist Matilda Simpkin starts a girls' club called the Amamzons to prepare teenage girls to be strong in mind and body so they are prepared to grasp every opportunity in changing times. Facism is rearing its ugly head and the political messages of the time resonate today. Conflict arises when a new girl joins the group who brings Mattie's past in conflict with her memories and ideals.
Old Baggage contains i...
Old Baggage contains important feminist themes by focusing on a former British Suffragette in the late 1920's to 1930's after women have been granted the right to vote. Mattie and her good friend, nicknamed The Flea, continue their fight for feminism by creating a group called The Amazons for young women to have discussions and learn skills that are typically reserved for men. The characters in this novel were very interesting. I enjoyed reading about Mattie, The Flea, and many of the other characters including one of the girls in the group who's mother (who had passed away when she was a baby) had been a Suffragette with Mattie. My only problem with this novel was that most of the story relied on the circumstances that happened before the events of this novel. I really liked reading about the suffrage movement, and felt the discussion of the women's prison cells used for the women who had been arrested during the peaceful fight for the right to vote was eye-opening. Unfortunately these were only small parts of the book and I felt that not a lot was happening in this story.
Lissa Evans brings for...
Lissa Evans brings forth the early struggles of twentieth century feminism in her latest novel,Old Baggage. Living in 1928 London, Mattie Simpkins is no longer on the front lines of the suffragette movement. Instead, she and her good friend Flossie are leading calmer lives, although she does miss some of the excitement from those days. However, Mattie finds herself called back into action as an encounter with a former ally alerts her to a new generation being manipulated into supporting the cause of fascism. Teaming up with Flossie, she forms a group who call themselves Amazons, determined to encourage young women into seeking higher education rather than getting the traditional "Mrs." degree. While this new group revives Mattie's spirits, one of their latest members, a woman named Inez, threatens to quickly undo all of her fresh efforts. This look at the old school fight for women's rights feels as if it can teach us modern gals a little something about our struggles today.
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