Publisher: Retreat West
Publication Date: 1st November 2018
As a reader I don’t usually gravitate towards short story collections but just recently I have been giving them a shot. When I was asked if I wanted to read The Word For Freedom, I jumped at the chance, mainly because it’s an anthology of stories surrounding the topic of women’s sufferage.
I was woefully lacking in knowledge with regards to this subject until I read Nevertheless She Persisted by Jon Watson a couple of months ago. This book piqued my interest in the women’s sufferage movement so I knew, or hoped, that this collection of stories should further whet my appetite.
This anthology has been put together by Retreat West to support the charity Hestia and their UK Says No More campaign against domestic abuse and sexual violence.
These 24 stories are probably the best group of short stories I have read. They are cohesive, despite being set in myriad different time periods. All written by female authors with female protagonists, the voices in these stories are so rich and varied. From a young girl being taken to Pakistan for an arranged wedding, a woman preparing to bring her sexual abuser to trial, Christobel Pankhurst sitting in a broom cupboard in the Houses Of Parliament (I know!) and a Mermaid who sacrifices her water world for ours in the name of love (who doesn’t love a mermaid I ask ya?!). I was entranced by every single one, and I mean Every. Single. One. There were no duds, because lets face it, with short story collections there is often a story or two that you don’t connect with as much. Not so with this collection.
They vary in length from 2 pages to around 10 pages maximum. I found the shorter stories very powerful indeed, and greatly admire a writer who can pack an emotional punch and leave you a bit winded over 2 pages! such skillful writing.
There were certain stories that gave me the shivers (in a good way), and ones that actually made me well up. I liked the way that the contemporary stories gave me pause to think about how they were linked into the sufferage movement and the events of the past and the effects this has had on women’s lives in the modern day world.
Thought provoking and utterly absorbing, this collection made me proud to be a woman and profoundly grateful for the sacrifices those brave women made. These tales of strength in the face of such adversity made me feel humble but also empowered.
I’m urging anyone and everyone to get their hands on this collection and spread the word. The word for freedom.
Thank you as always to Anne Cater and the lovely folk at Retreat West for this review copy.
See you soon.
Bookish Chat xx