I always used to be scared of joining a book club because I would have to read books I didn’t like. At the same time, I really really wanted to join a book club! As it turned out, the book club is wonderful and I love the discussions we have. Whilst there have been a few books I really did not enjoy I have liked most of them and in fact the ones which have stayed with me the most have often been the ones I have not been keen on reading.
Old Baggage was our latest read and while I wasn’t especially drawn to it I didn’t have any strong disinclination to read it either. My colleague loved it so I was quite intrigued by it and I definitely liked the cover!
Mattie is a woman with a thrilling past and a chafingly uneventful present. During the Women’s Suffrage Campaign she was a militant. Jailed five times, she marched, sang, gave speeches, smashed windows and heckled Winston Churchill, and nothing – nothing – since then has had the same depth, the same excitement.
Now in middle age, she is still looking for a fresh mould into which to pour her energies. Giving the wooden club a thoughtful twirl, she is struck by an idea – but what starts as a brilliantly idealistic plan is derailed by a connection with Mattie’s militant past, one which begins to threaten every principle that she stands for.
I found this to be a much gentler book than I expected – I think I thought suffragettes meant lots of very militant action! I did at first think I was not going to like Mattie at all but by the end I was very firmly on her side, despite her faults. I thought the book was beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The only problem I had was with the very last chapter – It felt disconnected from the rest and seemed almost to have been tacked on in order to link Old Baggage to the author’s previous book, Crooked Heart. I will have to read it to see how they actually connect – the extract at the end of my copy is intriguing and I will certainly be reading more from this author.
Old Baggage by Lissa Evans
Publisher: Black Swan