4 out of 4 stars
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Upon completing Mistress Suffragette by Diana Forbes, I would rate this book a 4 out of 4 stars. Mistress Suffragette is about a young woman’s journey in the Women’s movement in the late 1800’s. Pressured by her parents to marry a man of good standing in order to save their estate and her father’s failing business, she takes off to Boston to support her friend, Lucinda in joining the movement. What Penelope doesn’t expect, is to find her passion and strength in the uncomfortable situations that arise.
I thoroughly enjoyed the relatability of Penelope. Many times in a book, the heroine tends to always do the right thing. Through her interactions with Mr. Daggers, Penelope goes through many internal struggles that many real women do. Though strong, smart and independent, she still finds her mind being clouded by her emotions when interacting with this married man. She struggles with the morality of what she is doing and the pressure being put upon her by her family. Like most women, she wants to be loved and desired, yet finds it in the wrong places and is unsure how to handle it.
As I was reading the book, I constantly found myself questioning the accuracy of what I was reading as it related to the time period. It wasn’t until the end of the book that the author noted that certain events were accelerated in order to move the book along. While reading, I would question the reality of certain characters, so I found it interesting that many of the characters were loosely based on actual people. I believe the author did an excellent job of doing her research of the events.
I would have liked the author to expand upon Lucinda’s character. I felt as though she was the catalyst in getting Penelope to Boston, then forgotten. It would have been nice for the author to include some more interactions with her and Penelope when they both arrived home in the evenings. I think she could have been used to help show the gravity of the lack of jobs during The Panic.
I believe this book would appeal to women who want to make a difference but don’t think they are significant enough. Not only does it have a strong female lead character, but she’s also relatable in her inner conflicts. She makes mistakes, takes chances in love, follows her instincts, speaks her mind, and also doubts herself. Penelope is not perfect, but tries to make a difference. She shows how one person can ignite thought and change in others. Although she was not the leader of the movement, she played an important part in the group that she became involved in.
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