3 out of 4 stars
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Mistress Suffragette by Diana Forbes is a fun tale of Penelope and her journey to become a suffragette during the Panic of 1893. Along the way, she meets a few characters that help her journey to learn more about women’s rights and become an independent woman. These friends and lovers take the reader through an exciting read through 19th-century society.
Will these relationships hinder Penelope’s chances of truly finding her way in the movement? Will she learn about being an independent woman altogether?
Overall I think the story from the historical aspect is well written. The information on the struggle to not only break into the suffragist movement but also work your way up through its ranks in 1893 is enticing. I think it’s important that the author shows the main character as falling from the upper middle class and break down of the ideals so that she can truly become a part of the suffragist movement. It makes the reader think more about their own notions of how society works. I do like that the author focuses on building up Penelope’s relationships with prominent women that can help her along in her career. It shows how women can help other women to get a leg up in the world.
I found the romance parts of the novel lacking in terms of romance. I didn’t feel as though I was rooting for any of Penelope's relationships to succeed. Another issue that developed was while she was in a relationship it seems as though she’s finding herself in the same situation repeatedly. The men don’t have a similar ideology about women being able to think for themselves as she does. It’s problematic by the third time it happens. By the end of the story, the author does redeem herself by giving Penelope the happy ending she deserves. The struggle to get there did almost make me quit reading a few times.
I would recommend this book to people who have an interest in historical fiction around the turn of the 20th century. It’s a fun read, but I don’t think it works as being classified as a romance as the romance wasn’t very well written into the plot. I would recommend it to others as long as they can separate the romance part of the story from the nuances of how those relationships make Penelope into a better suffragist. For the reasons above I rate this book a 3 out of 4 stars.
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