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Honey, St Helen and St Katharine

Things A Bright Girl Can Do

Evelyn is young, rich and clever but her whole life is set out for her. She wants the same rights men have so she joins the Suffragettes on the fight for freedom. In another part of London lives May, who campaigns with the peaceful Suffragist movement. Then she meets Nell, another Suffragette living on the poor streets of Poplar. All three girls have one thing in common: they want change. They want the vote.
The story follows two very different sets of characters from different backgrounds. One pair are from high society and the other from a more hidden part of history; the suffragists campaign and the poor sections of London. I particularly liked this part of the story with Nell and May because it explores what it was like to fight for women’s rights without violence and covers poverty during the first world war. I think that both points were educational but the lesbian relationship between Nell and May interested me the most because it was the first book I have read that has homosexuality in it. The book features some less well known aspects of the fight for women's rights including poverty and lesbianism but also the struggle for rights for all women, even the ones that had a better start to life than others like Evelyn, who had the money for university but was not allowed to go. I thought the character development was slow although when the characters did progress it made me connect with them further, making it more enjoyable to read.
I found the title ‘Things a Bright Girl Can Do’ slightly patronizing and unappealing. Had this book not been a part of the Carnegie Shortlist I probably would not have picked it up. I only discovered after reading it that the title referred to another book published in the time the story was set.
Overall, although in parts it lacked pace, the book was worth the read as it was compelling, educational and inspiring.

Posted on: 23rd April 2019 at 09:35 am

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