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on 20 November 2012
This is a book of quality and I don't just mean its printed on thick, paper with a lovely sheen that is a pleasure to turn. Heroines and Harridans has weight to it and that's not just one hundred and thirty seven pages packed with a wealth of wit and worthy array of notable women, but the beautifully quirksome illustrations by Sandy Nightingale whose work led me to this book in the first place and the irrepressible humour of Sandy Toksvig. From the final comment in the preface "there are no soup recipes in this book" to the wry observation "some women are delightful when they are alive, some, sadly, are a joy only when they've passed on" to the closing chapter on 'soup' and its closing sentiment "there is so much left still to be devoured" this book will exercise your facial muscles and leave you feeling full and satisfied. It's a joy to read, it's fun, frivolous; it celebrates and illuminates a full bodied collection of women in all of their eccentric, determined, courageous, baffling and humbling aspects. Buy it, buy it! It will perk up your Book Club, adorn your bedside table, instigate chance encounters on the tube and your early morning commute! It looks good, it feels good and it draws you on like a romp but will reveal treasures to you along the way. I am as fond now, of Hester Thrale as I ever could have been had I had the pleasure of meeting her, from Aphra Benn, Stella Gibbons, Hairy Mary from Borneo to the Blessed Hildegard of Bingen there is, as they say, something for everyone in this delightful book by the two Sandies. I can't wait for volume two!
Heroines and Harridans: A Fanfare of Fabulous Females
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on 5 November 2012
I love this book! The stories are so beautifully readable, entertaining and full of things I didn't yet know about amazing ladies of 'herstory'. It's exquisitely designed and illustrated with the most perfect pictures of the featured ladies, which bring out everything from a wry smile at the corners of the mouth to full-on out-loud chuckles that have made the cats jump up in confusion. Fab!
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on 10 January 2013
I just loved this book. Sandi's take on history is so refreshing and funny. Sandy Nightingale's illustrations are so perfect for the commentary on each lady( or not so laydish). The combination of the two (drawings and stories) really made me laugh.
I am also impressed with the quality and presentation of the book. It is so stylish and fitting for a book of historical facts.
I also gave each of two of my friends, a copy for Christmas. They have both expressed their delight with this book. Being from Australia, I am not all that familiar with Sandi's comedy and acting, but have always enjoyed her forays onto QI. She is a very clever and funny lady. All age groups should enjoy reading about heroines and harridans. Actually it was the name that appealed to me first when I read a review in the English Women's Weekly, which I purchase religiously. I am really pleased that I purchased this wonderful book.
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A series of vignettes on the life and work of extraordinary women. Most of whom I had never heard of before. The book is illustrated throughout by cartoons somewhat in the vein of Beryl Cook whose women are all fat and fabulous. I was not that keen, however, on the randomness of the chronological detail.

Toksvigs style also takes some getting used to. It is sparky, abrupt, but often very amusing. Take this excerpt of the life of Hua Mulan (c.4th – 5th Century AD): “Sigh”. Here is another fine woman that historians cannot believe is was real. Of course she was real. Not only is there a splendid Chinese poem called “The Ballad of Mulan”, there is also an excellent cartoon by Disney. The ballad is set in the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534) and tells the tale of Mulan’s aged Dad being conscripted into the Imperial Army. Her father is too sick to serve so Mulan dresses up as a man and goes instead.” Mulan is triumphant and the Emperor offers her a job.

This book includes similarly tongue in cheek vignettes on Emily Post, Fannie Farmer, Lady Eastnor, Matilda of Flanders, Marie Stopes, Mimi Garneau, Hester Thrale, Stella Gibbons, Augusta Lovelace, Blessed Hildegard of Bingen and the Indian Squaw Sacagawea, just to give you a taste of the treats in store. You will not have heard of many of them, but they are an example of some of the women whose work and lives have been ignored by history.
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on 24 November 2012
this book would be good for anyone wishing to read some history about the accomplishments of woman good and bad. it will open your eyes.
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on 20 September 2013
Great text. Great artwork. Great fun! And you learn quite a lot of history as you laugh. Great women who should never be forgotten.
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on 30 November 2012
This is a great read - funny, irreverent,full surprising historical facts. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, the writing equally wonderful, and all in beautiful hard cover format. You feel a lot of love and effort has gone into this, along with friendship & laughter... Couldn't put it down and have already purchased two more to give to fabulous female friends.
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on 12 December 2014
This iis definitely a 'Coffee Table Book'. Not the sort of book you would necessarily read cover to cover but ideal for 'dipping' into.
Could have been improved if some of the charaters mentioned had been of more recent times; on the whole it appears to concentrate on women way back in the past and ignores more recent heroines, hence my three star rating!
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on 10 October 2013
I loved this book. I originally bought it for my daughter last christmas, but can say that i have read it much more than her! She loved it too, but i could not stop reading it. Fantastically wrote, as always, Sandi does it again. I have a few of her books and every one deserves 10* not 5! well worth reading.
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on 19 December 2012
Bought this book as a present for a friend after hearing the author interviewed! It didn't disappoint -it was great finding out about interesting women I'd not really heard about before. The only down side was I wanted to read a whole book about each one mentioned
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