A poignant, sparklingly written comic novel about the legacy of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and one woman’s determination to create a meaningful present in the wake of her own thrilling and revolutionary past.
Fiery, indefatigable and wilful, Matilda Simkin has made a life of righteous defiance. Once a proudly militant suffragette, her colourful past is littered with acts of bravery and rebellion but, as Mattie enters middle age, the world has moved on. It is 1928 and the once allied movement that she fought with is now irrevocably splintered and factionalised.
Yet – for Mattie at least – the fight is far from over and she is not about to bow out quietly. When a chance encounter on Hayward’s Heath sparks an exciting idea, she embarks headlong on an ambitious new venture that pits her against a new enemy: the rising tide of pre-World War Two British fascism. However, what begins with hope and fervour is jeopardised by the very past Mattie is trying to re-ignite and, as she clings with blind obstinacy to her own ideals, she unwittingly threatens the friendships that hold up her world.
Sharply observed, keenly funny and peppered with the same sparkling, whip-crack dialogue that invested her recently adapted novel, Their Finest, Old Baggage is a gloriously refreshing read. Skewering – and not without relish – the tired motif of the gentle-eyed spinster, Evans delivers a story full of passion and flawed but courageous purpose. A vivid cast, moments of spectacular farce and a pointed reflection on aging and purpose combine for a real cracker of a novel for the New Year; we defy anyone to emerge from reading it without a renewed spring in their step.