Sunday, 29 June 2014


Title: Suffragette Autumn Women's Spring
Author: Ian Porter
Publisher: Troubadour Publishing
Release Date: 28th April 2014

BLURB from
The story begins in spectacular, if shocking fashion, aboard the Titanic as it's sinking. An important scene, which Ruby later realises was the genesis of her becoming a Suffragette, takes place in a lifeboat. Ruby and Nashey are left traumatised and horrified not just by the disaster itself, but by the failures of the ship's officers. Ruby is also profoundly affected by the misplaced trust in, and subservience to, these men. Readers are then taken to New York, and on to Halifax, Nova Scotia, before the novel unfolds in Suffragette London, 1912-1914. Much of the story takes place within the militant struggle for Votes for Women, into which both main characters become drawn through different avenues. Ruby gets involved in Mrs Pankhurst's WSPU, which sees her imprisoned, hunger-striking and being force-fed. Nashey is initially interested in social change rather than the vote but a different Pankhurst working down in the East End impresses upon him that the former will follow the latter. Through the five p's publicity stunts, protests, political speeches, prison torture and police tactics we see the lengths to which the women and government went to ensure they would prevail. A main character then questions the direction the movement is taking. But out of this apparent Suffragette autumn comes a women s spring... Suffragette Autumn Women's Spring is, predictably, a fast-paced page turner, but characterisation and interpersonal relationships are important themes, brought in through cracking dialogue. This gripping work of historical fiction will appeal primarily to women and has been inspired by a number of sources, including Sylvia Pankhurst and her books on the Suffragette movement, Hilary Mantel and Arthur Morrison.

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.

I downloaded an e-galley of this one free of charge from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review, but I will add 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.

I am quie looking forward to this one as my daughter has read it and enjoyed the book. This book also has a section concerning the Titanic, and as my daughter is I am quite fascinated by most things Titanic related.

I requested this one from NEtgalley and received a free e-galley in exchange for my honest review.
I was quickly pulled into the book, as the first part takes place on the Titanic. Ruby one of the main characters is a "maid/servant" on the great vessel. Nashey is travelling across to America to try and make a new life for himself. They meet when all hell has broken loose on the "ship that couldn't sink". Nashey meets Ruby and they endeavor to get out to the life boats. They have to navigate through the ship and use servants passages as third class is still locked down. I think though Nashey is a third class passenger he shows himself to be more of a "gentleman" than the second and first class male passenger's. 
We also learn of how poorly White Star treat their employees after the Titanic sunk. I mean those who worked on the gigantic ship stopped getting paid the moment Titanic sank!
The rest of the book still features Ruby and Nashey, back in London. This part deals more with the Suffrage Movement and the factions within the movement itself. Where the mother and one daughter were more extremists and the more subtle way of being a suffrage. 
the book also goes into how the women were treat when they are arrested for demonstrating. The manhandling of them by the police. Even a disabled protester being manhandled and literally tipped right out of her wheelchair.  The book also covers the laws around force feeding prisoners who go on hunger strike.
And all the while this is happening we see a sweet relationship developing between Nashey and Ruby even though Nashey is quite a lot older than Ruby. a chance encounter on the sinking titanic turned into a life long friendship.
Did I enjoy the book? Yes I really did. I admit there was a small lull after the book switches from the Titanic back to London. the book seems to move more slowly but then it picks right back up.

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