Book Reviews

Genre: historical fiction, war

Key Stage: KS3/4

Rating: ★★★★

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Things A Bright Girl Can Do, Sally Nicholls (2017)

Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls was a interesting book to read. I loved how it explore the Suffragette movement, and how it makes the reader feel like they are living in the 1900s; whether it be society thinking that the campaign for women’s votes was a charade, or receiving an education which had clear gender-based limitations. The book is amazing in its own way.

Summary: the book has a few main characters: first, Evelyn, a fairly wealthy, upper-middle class young woman who comes from a respectable family, and her great friend Teddy. Teddy wants to marry Evelyn in the near future, but Evelyn would like to do all that later as she is set on studying at university; in the early 1900s however although women could go to school, they could not get a degree, they were barred from voting, having a say, or being able to live lives freely like men did. Evelyn’s brother Kit is studying at the esteemed Oxford University and Evelyn cannot see why she can’t go as well, and so in frustration she decides to join the Suffragettes, a group of women who have the same question,” Why can we not do things men can do? The only difference is sex.”

The two other key characters are May, who comes from a middle-class, progressive family, is curious, intellectual, fierce, and unapologetically queer—or, in her words, “Sapphic”. And Nell, whose family is working class, is quiet but good at fights and sports and all the things that boys do—in fact, she’s queer too, though less sure about what it means and how it works than May.

My thoughts: If I am being totally honest, I did find that parts of the book weren’t as gripping as others. I loved the idea about it being revolved around the time before the war, the fight for the women’s suffrage, the fight to standardise same-sex marriage, but it didn’t seem to be as good as other books I’ve read. Of course, this is just a personal opinion, and I’d love to hear your opinion on the book!

Reviewer:  Mahdi Amin, Year 7

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