My Story: Suffragette by Carol Drinkwater is part of the My Story series of YA novels based on true events and times in history, published by Scholastic.
This is the story of Dollie, a fourteen-year-old girl who becomes swept up in the fight for votes for women. Following the death of her father, Dollie’s mother struggles to provide for her family. Her mother blamed the Bonnington family, the owners of the dockyard where her husband worked, for his death and chose to confront them, asking them to take responsibility for making her a widow. The family offer to take Dollie in and send her to school. With too many mouths to feed already and knowing her daughter will have a chance at a better life she reluctantly agrees.
Written from Dollie’s point of view, this book is her diary detailing her feelings as she grows up estranged from her family and trying to find her place in privileged London. Dollie is drawn to the suffrage movement that is going on around her and what starts as a curious interest soon develops into a strong passion. Her guardian, Flora is also a strong believer in the rights of women but is a suffragist, determined that the campaign should stay on the side of the law. However, Dollie finds herself torn between the loyalty she feels towards Flora and her own feelings that support the militant suffragettes.
At the start of the book Dollie comes across as incredibly innocent and despite her difficult start in life she is relatively naive. But as the years go on and Dollie gets older we see her confidence grow as she matures and her opinions towards the suffrage movement become stronger. Making contact with her mother again becomes a powerful driver for her in her role as a suffragette as she sees with her own eyes the vast difference between the lives of women in society.
As the suffrage movement intensifies the book takes a darker turn and descriptions of abuse at the hands of the police, mistreatment in prisons and the infamous force feeding make for hard reading. However, all these events are true. Real women suffered in this way purely for standing up for their rights and whilst it is a painful history it is one we need to share and continue to talk about.
Covering the years between 1909 and 1913 this story covers many true events and gives an excellent overview of the history of the votes for women campaign as well as details on the political situation at the time. An interesting aspect of this book is the details of the tensions between the suffragists and suffragettes, an important aspect of the campaign that is sometimes overlooked. There is also a timeline of events, historical notes and photographs at the end of the book that bring the events covered together.
A thrilling read and an excellent way to make this important period of women’s history relatable to a new generation
Buy My Story: Suffragette from Scholastic.
Many thanks to Scholastic for sending a copy of this book for review.
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