Women's suffrage and Cricket? Can there be two more disparate topics upon which to found the basis of a novel? Probably not, yet that is what Anthony Quinn in 'Half of the Human Race' uses to frame his beautifully simple tale.
I admit to being drawn in initially by the cover, with its striking suffragette colours, but the desire to learn more about a subject that has always been at the edge of my consciousness, but about which I know little, caused me to pluck it from the pile last Saturday.
It's got a tremendously wide scope - starting in 1911 and moving at great pace towards the war and beyond. Hearing that, one might be forgiven for thinking it could be heavy handed and ponderous, but instead the action moves quickly and simply, with Quinn never allowing us to become bogged down in pity which can be at a readers' elbow whenever the tragic events of those four years are mentioned.
This chaotic world, in which the tennants of the Victorian era are slowly being broken down, is home to Constance and Will, the two central characters whose commitment to their causes mean that they end up hurting each other, but are simply unable to sever the link between them. Love, trust and friendship are the themes Quinn works with and in the end the reader is left acknowledging the seismic shift that has happened to the world between 1911 and 1920. It's a truly fascinating period of history to document and read about, and will inspire and enthrall readers of all ages.
P.S. In one of those serendipitous (is that a word? It is now) moments, I was in Blackwells today and stumbled across a book with almost the same cover as above .... 'The Ascent of Woman; A History of the Suffrage movement'. Needless to state, I bought it and look forward to reading more.