Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Tom Mach, Angels at Sunset

The long-fought campaign for women’s suffrage was equally important on both sides of the Atlantic, and Tom Mach’s recent novel Angels At Sunset tackles the battle our American sisters won less than 100 years ago.

With a foreword by Coline Jenkins, a relative of the American suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Angels At Sunset is instantly steeped in authority, and is painstakingly well researched throughout.

The novel follows Jessica Radford, a former suffragist in her elder years who is reminiscing on her activist past while her stepdaughter writes her memoirs. But Angels At Sunset isn’t simply a suffragist’s memoir, it is also the mystery story of a man who is plotting to kill the ageing Jessica, and the two stories run parallel to one another.

Combining true life figures (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul et al) alongside fictional characters, Angels at Sunset really brings the US campaign to life and stresses the importance of voting… both in the 1910s and 1920s as well as now. And with the recent local elections in the UK having seen a turnout of less than a quarter, perhaps this is a message worth repeating to contemporary voters.

Angels At Sunset catalogues the humiliations and horrors that the suffragists endured in their determination to secure the vote for women for generations to come. But it wasn’t simply the right to vote that our American sisters fought for, they also campaigned for married women to be permitted to own property, sign contracts or keep custody of their children should they divorce their husbands.

Our heroine Jessica has fought against slavery as well as for suffrage, she has endured prison, fire and all number of tortures. And her story takes us across a range of time periods to incorporate a variety of essential historical events that shape our world to be the place it currently is. Although the dialogue is somewhat stilted at times, and the characters seem to share the same voice, Angels at Sunset is a gripping account of the suffrage campaign from the US perspective.

For more information about Angels at Sunset, please click here. The book is also available in print and as an e-book from Amazon.

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