Title: Staunch

Author: Eleanor Wood

Pages: 297 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

A late 30s The Wrong Knickers meets Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Eleanor finds herself in her late 30s on a beach in India with three old ladies, trying to ‘find herself’ and ‘discover her family history’ like some sad middle-class crisis cliché. How did she get here?

Truthfully, it could be for any one of the below reasons, if not all combined:

  • Stepmum dying/Stepdad leaving – family falling apart, subsequent psychotic break; both parents now on third marriage
    • Breaking up with J after 12 years – breaking up a whole life, a whole fucking universe – for reasons that may have been… misguided?
    • New boyfriend moving in immediately, me insisting ‘it’s not a rebound!’ even after everyone has stopped listening, being cited in his messy divorce, him being sectioned, then breaking up with me
    • Going into therapy after dating a potentially violent, certainly threatening, narcissist (the most pertinent point of which should be noted: I did not break up with him – he ghosted me)

How to address this situation? Take a trip to India with your octogenarian nan and two great aunts of course. The perfect, if somewhat unusual, distraction from Eleanor’s ongoing crisis.

But the trip offers so much more than Eleanor could ever have hoped for.

Through the vivid and worldly older women in her life, she learns what it means to be staunch in the face of true adversity.

The Review

I have a new goal in life. I want to be staunch.

Let me explain.

I like to think that I am not a person driven by fear. I don’t worry unnecessarily. I respond to things rather than over-thinking. However, for the past seven days (at the time of writing) I have been holed up in one room fearing the world. A virus is ripping through the country and because of my weakened immune system and the medication that I take to control my immune system I am not embarrassed to say that I am scared. Terrified, even.

So when I read something as uplifting, as courageous and as heart-warming as Staunch by Eleanor Wood I am genuinely given hope. This story of one woman’s admiration for the brave women in her family made me stop and pause, to reassess. I travelled with these ladies to their mother country. I shared their experiences – both good and bad. I revelled in their victories and had my heart squeezed by their failures. In truth, I lived their stories as I read the page.

It reminded me that whilst things are pretty crappy at the moment (and believe me, they are) that things will get better and easier and there will be things to look forward to eventually. It was the first fluttering in my belly of maybe one day being staunch.

Staunch by Eleanor Wood is available now.

For more information regarding Eleanor Wood (@eleanor_wood) please visit her twitter page.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Vox

Author: Christina Dalcher

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more, and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

[100 WORD LIMIT REACHED]

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

There is one topic that comes in books that I have a physical reaction to. It is a topic that makes my chest tighten and can often lead me to getting a headache out of anger. That topic is the repression of women.

When I read Vox by Christina Dalcher I had this very visceral reaction.

It is a world where women are only allowed to speak 100 words a day otherwise they experience intense pain. What made this book all the more scary is that I can see the potential in this repression happening in modern society.

Vox is a fascinating story and one that you should read if you enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Vox by Christina Dalcher is available now.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: The Truth Will Set You Free, But First it Will Piss You Off – Thoughts on Life, Love and Rebellion

Author: Gloria Steinem

Pages: 192 Pages

Publisher: Murdoch Books

The Blurb

An illustrated collection of Gloria Steinem’s most inspirational and outrageous quotes, with an introduction and essays by the feminist activist herself ‘When the path is dark, Gloria’s words light the way forward.’ – Natalie Portman

For decades, people around the world have found guidance, humour and unity in Gloria Steinem’s gift for creating quotes that offer hope and inspire action. From her early days as a journalist and feminist activist, Steinem’s words have helped generations to empower themselves and work together. Covering topics from relationships (‘Many are looking for the right person. Too few are trying to be the right person.’) to the patriarchy (‘Men are liked better when they win. Women are liked better when they lose. This is how the patriarchy is enforced every day.’ ) and activism (‘Revolutions, like trees, grow from the bottom up.’ ), this book will make you want to laugh, march and create quotes of your own.

The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off! is both timeless and timely, a gift of hope from Steinem to readers, and a book to share with friends. Gloria has a profound knack for expressing ideas in ways that stick with you.’ – Emma Watson

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I love Gloria Steinem. That’s it.

Okay, no, that isn’t it. It is true. I do love her. I love her writing and I love her feminist views and I love her attitude and I wish I was bolshy, like her. In her book The Truth Will Set You Free we get a collection of her quotations and quotes from other people. They are all inspirational and I really don’t have anything to say about this books that isn’t positive. It is a perfect boost to make your day more positive.

The Truth Will Set You Free, But First it Will Piss You Off – Thoughts on Life, Love and Rebellion by Gloria Steinem.

For more information regarding Gloria Steinem (@GloriaSteinem) please visit www.glorasteinem.com.

For more information regarding Murdoch Books (@MurdochBooksUK) please visit www.murdochbooks.co.uk.

Title: Everyday Sexism

Author: Laura Bates

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

In 2012 after having been sexually harassed on London public transport, Laura Bates started a project called Everyday Sexism. Astounded by the response from all over the world, she quickly realized that the situation was far worse than she’d initially thought.

In a culture that’s driven by social media, for the first time women are using this online space, now in 19 countries, to come together and to encourage a new generation to recognize the problems that women face.

In April of 2015, to commemorate the 100,000th entry, the author led a successful Thunderclap campaign that enabled the project to become the #1 internationally trending topic that day, gaining several million retweets to become the leading tweet in the English speaking world.

The Review

I work in a school and I often have conversations with students over the relativity of feminism and how sexist attitudes and practices still exist. When I try to show them real life examples I always tell them about a time that I was walking home from work, minding my own business, listening to my iPod when a man that I didn’t know stopped me in the street. Firstly, he invaded my personal space, poked me in the stomach and told me I would be much prettier if I smiled more. Thanks, random stranger.

It may not seem like much but it is this low level everyday sexism that girls and women are faced with on a daily basis. Everyday Sexism is chock full of stories like this. It is a compendium of women being subjugated to the toxic male gaze.

Laura Bates is feisty and will not stand for it. This book is for everyone who has had to deal with this kind of BS. Or for those girls who walk down the road with their keys pressed between their fingers just in case. It is just for women. You just need to read it.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates is available now.

For more information regarding Laura Bates (@EverydaySexism) please visit www.everydaysexism.com.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster (@simonschusterUK) please visit www.simonandschuster.co.uk.

Title: The Doll Factory

Author: Elizabeth Macneal

Pages: 336Pages

Publisher: Picador Books

The Blurb

The Doll Factory is a sweeping tale of curiosity, love, and possession set among all the sordidness and soaring ambition of 1850s London.

The greatest spectacle London has ever seen is being erected in Hyde Park and, among the crowd watching, two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist of unique beauty, it is the encounter of a moment—forgotten seconds later—but for Silas, a curiosity collector enchanted by the strange and beautiful, the meeting marks a new beginning.

When Iris is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint, and suddenly her world expands beyond anything she ever dreamed of. But she has no idea that evil stalks her.

Silas, it seems, has thought of only one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day…

The Review

I don’t know what it is about novels set during the Victorian era that makes me like them so much. It could be that the world was changing so rapidly that it is interesting to imagine how people dealt with those changes or it could be that as a 21st century audience we take things for granted that still had that creepy quality during this period.

Creepiness is definitely what you get from the story in The Doll Factory. It is a story centred around Iris, the once less attractive twin who end up being considered a great beauty by rogue artists. Whilst she chooses to change her life – angering her family and going against what was expected and socially accepted of working class women – she encounters difficulties that she couldn’t even begin to imagine…including the unreciprocated feelings of strange taxidermist, Silas.

I really enjoyed The Doll Factory. I was so intrigued by the story that I felt myself desperate to read on. It is definitely an ‘Oh, just one more chapter…’ book. The world which Macneal creates is so visual and she manages to create a story that is the perfect blend of character and story driven. The backdrop of industrial change and great opportunity is evocative and really enables you to live this story. I have read quite a few books set during this era but have to admit that The Doll Factory is forcing its way to the top of my favourites list.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Macneal (@esmacneal) please visit www.elizabethmacneal.com.

For more information regarding Picador Books (@picadorbooks) please visit their Twitter page.