At first concentration is on the Titanic I felt confused as it takes a while to see where the plots going. However it's a very good read. Characters are very good. Some sad bits too. From now on I shall always when possible use my right to vote!!
INITIAL THOUGHTS To be totally truthful I didn't read the whole description, I kind of got the gist the book was about suffragettes and saw the name Pankhurst and thought "wow I'd really like to read about them and what they got up to." Truthfully I couldn't have picked a better book for me to read! I did wonder if it was going to be list after list of protests etc or if the suffragette movement was going to be encapsulated within a believable story. I found out the more favourable choice of the latter was the case.
MY REVIEW Had I seen this one on a book store shelf it is most definitely the type of book I would have picked up and filed away to read under the "something different" category. So the cover feature who I'd presume after reading the book to be Sylvia Pankhurst, then again it may be a depiction of the main female character throughout the whole book, Ruby. The cover does well to depict the era of the book and though perhaps not as eye catching as some covers I really would pick it up in a book store, so to me that means its done its job of enticing me to want to know more! The title of the book didn't enamor me, but hey it's the content that matters the most! So the book is separated into parts, the first one being where we meet the main characters of the book who are in fact fictitious characters, Ruby and Nash. Ruby is working aboard the Titanic and Nash is a third class steerage passenger. Seeing I love most things Titanic I was mesmerized with this part of the book, of course the beguiling unsinkable Molly Brown got a mention. Though how could you write anything about that ship and not mention the larger than life Molly Brown. It is aboard the Carpathia rescue ship that Ruby is tentatively introduced to the suffrage movement. I really don't want to go into too many details and spoil the book for you so I'll try to be a little more general from here. Ian Porter certainly encourages you to become attached to both main characters and you really worry about them and want them to keep in touch after their shared drama aboard the Titanic. In the era the book takes place there was no counselling, the poor crew of the titanic were left to fend for themselves and recover from the trauma in their own ways. The book tells the reader about the Pankhurst family, how the matriarch and one of the sisters becomes more and more violent in their protests and actions, but within the book we learn more about Sylvia, the sister who goes and lives amongst the people she wishes to represent and fight for. Sylvia believed the vote should be for all women not just those who owned property and were of the higher classes. This is how Ruby is introduced to Sylvia and becomes an activist too. The book tells the stories of some of the pranks that Sylivia's ladies got up to. The book also tells us of the serious side of the movement, the police brutality that was given out to these women. It also covers the imprisonment of the suffragettes and how they would go on not only hunger strike refusing all food but also on thirst strike. Under a new law once the suffragettes had become really ill they would be released but not before going through the horrors of being force fed. There are quite graphic descriptions of more than one force feeding. I'd say this book covers all the facts and then adds some fiction to personalise what happened to the suffragettes to the reader. You do feel yourself being drawn further and further into to the book as you do naturally like Ruby and Nash. You do really become attached to Ruby and feel for her as a suffragette "prank" at a racecourse goes badly, devastatingly wrong. Some of these women did truly die for their cause, to get women the chance to vote. Each main character in this book has complex and interesting back stories that we learn about during the book, as well as meeting some of their families. I was interested to read about the Titanic Welfare Fund, though it seems it was a benefit fought long and hard for. In the book Ruby's mother is entitled to it as her husband and Ruby's father was a baker on board the Titanic and sadly didn't survive. It was heartbreaking how these titanic widows were treat. Then there was the surviving crew of the Titanic whose pay stopped the minute the ship sank. They had to rely on charity or on telling their story about the Titanic to earn enough money to get by on until White Star could transfer them back home. That must have been the hardest journey most of them ever took. Having to get on another ship to get home after surviving the horror of the titanic sinking. I felt truly fascinated by this book. Indeed the author had found out the facts and then added a little fiction to make the story come to life for the reader. So did I enjoy the book? I loved it, though it may seem macabre I do have an interest in all things Titanic, so I truly loved that part of the book and expected to feel saddened and perhaps not as interested in the rest of the book, but in the end I found the whole book highly interesting. The references to things really happening around the world, such as the Whitechapel Murders, (later called the ripper), the war and laws and politics at the time the book was set. Would I recommend the book? I'd recommend it highly to those interested in the Titanic, the suffrage movement, historical books and maybe even to teens looking for a book to do a project on. It's certainly a captivating read. Would I read another book about suffragettes? I think I would yes as this book has unearthed another appealing subject/genre. Would I read another book written by Ian Porter? I certainly would as the book felt well researched and was so detailed from the politics, to the clothes worn and down to the working class problems of the time and health problems that were rife in the era the book is set in. Whilst I was enthralled by the main parts of the book, I was at times attracted to the minute detailing in the story around the main plot too. I felt like as well as being entertained by reading the book, I was also learning new things and being educated about the era of the setting of the book.
Ian Porter's story is a clever blend of fact and fiction, a slice of social history and is clearly meticulously researched. We meet the central fictional characters, Nash and Ruby, aboard the Titanic as she's sinking. Separated by circumstance, both survive the tragedy and there's an interesting glimpse of the immediate impact of the disaster in New York and Halifax, Nova Scotia. For those unfamiliar with what happened to survivors and the deceased, these chapters are an interesting overview. White Star do not come out of it well.
On returning to Britain, the two meet again and become involved in the Suffragette cause. As characters they are woven into key events alongside real people. Nash and Ruby have a distinct voice. They want social change and have that as a common, albeit slightly different, purpose.
There's a great deal of drama and the story gives account of numerous harrowing events as the Suffragette movement tries to broaden their appeal and influence. It's both compelling and moving to consider the fight and suffering others endured to win a social changes we too often take for granted. We see fearless pride with total dedication to a cause and belief. Ian Porter carefully explores a number of themes including social justice, empowerment, social convention and class distinction.
The book is well written and captures the central issues extremely well. My only reservation was that it occasionally failed to excite. For example, the Titanic scenes are well depicted, but a little flat and almost dispassionate. All the elements are there but it feels more like a factual account seen from above rather than the reader being within the events. That aside, it's an interesting read which gives context to an era of turbulent and too easily forgotten change.
This is an excellent book choice for anyone interested in the Suffragettes, or those simply interested in social history in general. The author makes superb use of his in depth knowledge of the world at the time, and you become swept away into Ruby and Nashey's world. Knowing the story is all hung on historical context and truths makes for blood boiling reading at times, but living it through believable characters makes for thoroughly engaging reading. A fantastic historical fiction filled with little gems of knowledge, I recommend!
I cannot possibly describe how much I loved this book. It was wonderfully written with a perfect blend of history and fiction. I have been interested in the suffragette movement for a long time and this book educated me, entertained me and arose an even deeper passion for the movement.
I could not put the book down and used every free minute to read.
The story is instantly engaging with a wonderful look at the sinking of the Titanic and how it affected different people. The story then moves to England and the Suffragette movement. The characters and story remain at all times interesting and i found no slow parts in the book.