I’m delighted to be co-hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for The Word for Freedom, a short story collection celebrating a hundred years of women’s suffrage published today. Do check out today’s review by my tour buddy, Bev at Reading for Pleasure. On the tour banner at the bottom of this post, you’ll find details of the other great book bloggers taking part in the tour.
About the Book
A collection of 24 short stories celebrating a hundred years of women’ suffrage, from both established and emerging authors, all of whom have been inspired by the suffragettes and whose stories, whether set in 1918, the current day or the future, focus on the same freedoms that those women fought for so courageously.
Authors who have donated stories include:
- Sophie Duffy, author of The Generation Game
- Angela Readman, Costa Short Story Award winner
- Anna Mazzola, author of The Story Keeper and winner of the Edgar Allen Poe award
- Isabel Costello, author of Paris, Mon Amour and host of The Literary Sofa blog
- Angela Clarke, best-selling author of the Social Media Murders series
- Karen Hamilton, author of The Perfect Girlfriend
- Helen Irene Young, author of The May Queen
- Victoria Richards, journalist and award-winning short story writer
- Cath Bore, feminist short story writer and broadcaster
A clerk of works at the Palace of Westminster encounters Emily Davison in a broom cupboard; a mermaid dares to tread on land to please the man she loves; a school girl friendship makes the suffragette protests relevant to the modern day; a mother leaves her child for a tree; an online troll has to face his target; and a woman caught in modern day slavery discovers a chance for freedom in a newspaper cutting.
These stories and many more come together in a collection that doesn’t shy away from the reality of a woman’s world, which has injustices and inequalities alongside opportunities and hard-won freedoms, but always finds strength, bravery and hope.
Through this anthology Retreat West Books is proud to support Hestia and the UK Says No More campaign against domestic abuse and sexual violence.
Format: Paperback, ebook (pp.) Publisher: Retreat West Books
Published: 1st November 2018 Genre: Short Stories
Find The Word for Freedom on Goodreads
What I found fascinating about this collection of short stories was the different ways the various contributors chose to interpret the theme, exploring ideas about the place of women in the world then and now in a variety of ways. Whether it’s freedom from control by others (men, social expectations, tradition) or freedom to pursue their own desires and interests, the stories provide a message of hope but don’t shy away from the inequality, prejudice and discrimination that women have faced and that unfortunately many women still face. The scourge of modern slavery, arranged/forced marriage and rape are revealed in often powerful and thought-provoking ways.
Given the high quality of all the contributions it seems almost unfair to single out individual stories. However, there were a few that caught my eye because of their historical focus.
- ‘Counting for England’ – the inside story (excuse the pun) of a famous act of protest
- ‘One Woman, One Vote’ – a woman exercising her right to vote for the first time demonstrates, through her own quiet act of rebellion, that her husband doesn’t know best when it comes to how she should cast her vote.
- ‘Cover Their Bright Faces’ – past inequality is revealed when two women discover the poignant story of Portia who was unable to be recognised for her achievements or to live and love freely in the way they now can. ‘We live the promise that Portia only scented.’
- ‘Myopia’ – a woman for whom the war provided the opportunity to hold a position of responsibility challenges the ‘myopia’ of her seemingly diminished horizons now the war has ended.
The Word for Freedom is a wonderful collection of imaginative and thought-provoking stories. Like all short story collections, it’s ideal for dipping in and out of when you have the freedom (sorry!) of the odd spare moment and small enough to be popped in a handbag or briefcase. Although the majority of the contributors are female, I don’t think it should be regarded as a book just for women. I believe readers of any gender would gain much from the stories it contains.
I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Retreat West Books, and Random Things Blog Tours.
About Amanda Saint
Amanda Saint founded and runs Retreat West, providing creative writing competitions and courses, and in 2017 launched Retreat West Books, an independent press publishing paperback books and ebooks. Amanda’s debut novel, As If I Were A River, was a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and a Book Magnet Blog Top 20 Book of 2016. Her new novel, Remember Tomorrow, is coming in 2019. Her short stories have been widely published and been log and shortlisted for, and won, various prizes.
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About Rose McGinty
Rose McGinty is the author of Electric Souk. She lives in Kent and is a creative writing tutor and editor at Retreat West. Previously she worked for the NHS. Rose has won a number of writing competitions and had short stories selected for anthologies. She also enjoys running creative writing workshops in support of social causes.
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