Saturday, 20 January 2018

'Until We Win'

Shortly before Christmas I wrote a piece about Linda Newbery's 2004 novel for young adults called Polly's March, and added a PS that I'd spotted she had a more recent book out about the suffragettes. Well, now I've got my paws on a copy and am reporting back...

Until We Win: They Demand The Vote was published just last year by Barrington Stoke Teen and picks up the suffragette mantle and moves it onwards from Polly's adventures (NB: Until We Win features an entirely different cast of characters to Polly's March; it's not a sequel). 

In her new book, Linda focuses on 17-year-old Lizzy who is frustrated by the preferential treatment her brother gets and bored in her job, so when she meets suffragettes Julia and Elsie in a cafe her life is transformed for the better. Lizzy throws herself into the suffragette movement, fighting for votes for women and finally finding purpose to her life. 

With whistlestop breathlessness, Until We Win sees Lizzy rapidly move from office girl to suffragette to prisoner to war worker, touching on lots of significant historical details. Initially, I thought it a little odd how quickly the story moved from one element to another without giving too much focus to the different activities Lizzy became involved in, but after looking the book up on Barrington Stoke's website I realised Linda had written the book in a particular way to make it more accessible to dyslexic readers. The book has a reading age of 8 years but is intended to appeal to teenage readers, and even the layout and font used has been given consideration for dyslexic readers. Which is a fabulous initiative from the author and publishers.

Can we also give a big nod to the beautiful cover? Designed by artist Stewart Easton, the cover is a reproduction of an embroidery he created for the book in suffragette colours of purple, green and white and is deliberately reminiscent of the hand-sewn suffragette banners that the WSPU created to display at marches and events. You can read more about the cover design here. 

PS - The reason I have included Holly Webb's book The Princess and the Suffragette in the photo with this post is that I am LOVING the covers on the current crop of suffragette teen fiction. They're absolutely stunning and a far cry from the rather fusty covers that used to adorn teen suffrage fiction in previous decades. Hurrah for beautiful book covers.

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