Book Review: Hourglass Factory: Lucy Ribchester

hourglass

With a general election upon us there seems to be lots in the media at the moment about Votes for Women and women’s suffrage. I thought it must be a 100 year anniversary but in the UK that won’t be until 2018 (interestingly though, in 1918 it was only women older than 30 that ran a household that could vote, votes for over 21s wouldn’t come in until 1928)

I did the suffragettes in school but must say I’m mostly ignorant on the subject. Recently I’ve been watching some interesting documentaries and also a little bit of comedy in Up the Women. I’m also hotly anticipating the new Meryl Streep and Helena Bonham-Carter film about the subject due in October. So when I saw The Hourglass Factory advertised I decided to give it a go.

The book got me hooked straightaway. The circus and fetishism reminded me a little of Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I adore anything set in the past, M quite often bemoans all the historical dramas that are stored in our Sky planner.. Ribchester sets the scene of a 1912 smoggy Edwardian London beautifully. We follow headstrong tomboy Frankie into a mysterious underworld of tight lacing, acrobats, snake dancers and murder..

Shamefully, apart from knowing the names of the Pankhurst’s from school, the most I knew about suffragism is from Mrs Banks in Mary Poppins… I genuinely thought it was just wearing sashes and chaining yourself to fences..The book shed light on what it was like in prison for women (and men) who felt they had know choice but to starve themselves, the different groups within the cause, ranging in militancy and just how much these women (and men) fought, violently in some cases, for my right to vote. Something which I’ve never truely considered until now.

The book kept me mostly hooked throughout, it was slow in places but I stuck with it. It had some great twists and turns as well as some likable characters. Definitely worth a read.

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