Saturday, 23 December 2017
Continuing my mission to uncover and read as many fiction books about the UK suffrage campaign as possible, today I finished the children's book Polly's March by Linda Newbery. Which, fun fact, is part of a series of six books with two other authors where they all set their stories in the same London house but in different eras, giving a fascinating spin on history through the eyes of the girls who lived there (well, I imagine it does, I've only read this one!).
Linda's book is set in 1914, on the eve of World War One, and sees 13-year-old Polly pining for her friend Lily who has recently moved out of the flat upstairs, only to be replaced by two unusual ladies... who turn out to be suffragists called Violet and Edwina, much to the horror of Polly's prissy parents and the other family who live in the Chelsea Walk building.
Through a chat in the garden with her new neighbours, and later visits up to their flat, Polly learns about the suffrage campaign and quickly understands just how important it is for women to have the vote if they are ever to achieve their ambitions (Polly wants to be an explorer, something women just didn't do in 1914 - well, some women did but not many). Militant suffragette Edwina is recovering from an imprisoned hunger strike, while her peaceful suffragist friend Violet opposes the violent strategies and prefers the calmer approach to campaigning.
Polly's March is an inspired way of getting the suffrage message across to younger readers, and is very accessible. There's a lot of historical information in here without making it seem like a text book. Yes, I definitely recommend this one for younger readers (maybe for children of about 10 years).
PS - Linda has another young adult book about the suffragettes as well, called Until We Win. I will report back once I've got a copy.