'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 3 February 2023

Review: Suffragette: The Battle for Equality

First things first, I want to apologise that I haven't uploaded a review of David Roberts' Suffragette much earlier than this. It's a travesty. Much like the travesty women around the world have traversed to secure the basic right to vote. 

And no one tells the suffragette tale like Roberts; he has produced a book that spans not only the gamut of reading age, but a tome that will utterly delight anyone with a love of history, drama and an appreciation of beautiful art [read: most especially children].

Suffragette is one of my best-loved books in the past 5 years, including adult books. It is written with compassion, clarity and goosebumpelling verve that puts us firmly in the seat of those women who fought, lost, gained and even died to change history.

Beautifully crafted and laid out, this large format book is a chronological journey sliced into double-page spreads that highlight some of the key moments in the UK's suffragette movement.

Stars of the show include the world-renowned Emmeline Pankhurst, as well as Millicent Fawcett, Emily Wilding Davison, and militant activist and wheelchair user Rosa May Billinghurst. I mean, these are some astonishingly brave and feisty women who suffered repeat incarcerations, physical violence and oppression, and partook in debilitating hunger strikes with unbearable forced feedings by prison staff.

Sections in the book cover such insights as the loss of the right to vote in 1832 (thanks to the Great People's Reform Act), introductions to several suffragists and their supporters, the various groups, federations and unions that were formed, sustained civil disobedience and protests, arson, hunger strikes, firebombs - I mean, this is phenomenal rebel territory that will both stun and hearten young readers.

Although the stories are often dire (because, well, things were dire), the latter stories become more hopeful and encouraging. I haven't found anything in this book that would distress children, but if you feel inclined, look through the content beforehand. 

Frankly, this is the kind of history children need to hear, to develop compassion, humanity and a true understanding of human rights. Alas, to this day, not all of the world's women can vote, and in some countries that do have the legal right to vote, harassment, coercion and even violence prevents them from safely doing so.

A special mention to the illustrations featured throughout the book. Riddled with action, emotion, detail, depth, quirky character and the superb colour palette Roberts is known for, they are sheer delight, and form a stunning visual backdrop to a timeless, important history.

Suffragette is a keeper of a book, and is a vital historical recount for both schools and home.

Title: Suffragette: The Battle for Equality
Author/Illustrator: David Roberts
Publisher: Two Hoots, $44.95
Publication Date: 31 May 2018
Format: Hardcover, large format
ISBN: 9781509839674
For ages: 8+
Type: Picture Book, Non-Fiction