Suffragette Autumn Women’s Spring by Ian Porter was published today. It’s available through Picador/Troubador publishers and all the usual suspects such as Amazon. Or if you come to one of Ian’s talks or walks, he’ll sell you a signed copy at a discounted rate!
The story is set in the turbulent years 1912-14. It follows two survivors from the Titanic. One of them, Ruby, once back in Britain, comes to appreciate that her experiences in a lifeboat, in New York and in front of a Disaster Fund committee, have led her to question the roles of men and women, and from this she enters the Suffragette fold. The other survivor is more interested in improving the lives of the poor than winning the vote, until a woman impresses upon them that the latter leads to the former. The story follows the two different routes these people take within the Suffragette cause.
Ruby becomes involved in major plots to protest in the most disruptive ways possible to gain the maximum amount of publicity for the cause, whilst her fellow survivor gets involved with more grass roots politics.
There’s no individual ‘baddie’ for the heroines and heroes to overcome, just the all powerful collective one known as the British government.
If this is all a bit vague (just who is the second survivor I hear you ask), Ian isn’t a great believer in the back covers, blogs or press releases of books telling you virtually the whole plot in microcosm, so to find out more you’ll just have to read the book!
The third and fourth main characters in the book are Sylvia Pankhurst and May Billinghurst. These, and almost all the other characters in the book, are real-life people – Emmeline & Christobel Pankhurst, Emily Davison, Mary Richardson, Norah Smyth, Melvinia Walker, Jessie Payne, Herbert Asquith, Officer Lightoller, Mrs Lightoller, Officer Lowe and many others.
As with Ian’s first book, Whitechapel, an exhaustive amount of research has been done to ensure authenticity. This novel is almost inevitably, given its subject matter, a fast-paced page-turner, but it’s also character-driven with great dialogue. You get to care about the people in this novel whilst through them you learn more about the Suffragette cause than you’re ever likely to in a history book or TV documentary.
Ian will be blogging daily about the Suffragettes from now on. Tomorrow he starts by asking, why is the subject of the Suffragettes avoided like the plague by TV?