Genre: Autobiography / memoir
Narrative Style: First person
Synopsis: A personal account of the meetings and actions of the W.S.P.U. and also an explanation for these actions.
Reading Challenge: The Non Fiction Challenge.
When I was a student, I did some modules on the suffragettes and when the film came out last year, it re-sparked my interest in this part of history. So when this came up on Amazon, I didn’t hesitate.
It was a very good read. It showed the power and passion of Pankhurst herself as well as the rest of the W.S.P.U. quite clearly. Pankhurst seems to have been an incredibly charismatic leader as well as being clearly intelligent and determined. She must have been a force to be reckoned with.
In one sense, this is an uplifting read. I’m not sure that I could have kept going in the face of forcible feeding and the cat and mouse act but these women were not going give up, no matter what. It was inspiring to think of them fighting back especially considering they had no real political power. They had to find other means to make their voices heard.
For the most part though, it is a difficult read. Pankhurst writes of thirst and sleep strikes where she was so weak she could barely stand but still she attempted to walk the length of her cell and not rest. The politicians do not come out of this well. Lloyd-George and Asquith particularly prove themselves to be duplicitous and uncaring. They treated the women as if they were hysterical and ignored their demands whereas male rebels (such as those in Ireland who opposed home rule) were taken seriously.
Mrs Pankhurst’s style is conversational and so is easy to read. However, speeches and political discussions are often recorded in full and are sometimes a little dry. There is a lot of talk about motives for action but the actions themselves are not always described. This slows the pace a little. However, as an insight in the workings of such an important political organisation, it is definitely worth the read.