Old Baggage – Lissa Evans

Stop and think about this title of the latest book from Lissa Evans.

Old Baggage, can mean different things to different people. It can be used as a description of some older lady, past her prime and of no use to anyone or society. It can be the baggage we bring from the past into the present. It can be actual tangible items, it can be thoughts, emotions and feelings. It can simply be an old bag with treasures inside that has sat unopened for a long time.

But what if it is all those things as Lissa Evans cleverly weaves her tale.

Matilda Simpkin, Mattie to her friends is all the things I have described and more. She is a lady of a certain age, who having been a militant activist within the Suffragette movement has now reached a stage in life where she finds she is of no use, she has no purpose. She is simply seen by others as Old Baggage.

But upon discovering a wooden club in an old bag, she wonders perhaps if there is still not more to do and can you still be idealistic and principled ten years after the main event.

However, times have changed and they are moving in a different direction and when Mattie encounters someone from her past what she believes in suddenly becomes lost in some other campaign.

I was drawn to all the characters, even though Mattie dominates the pages. Those she interacts with like The Flea (read the book to find out why she is called that) and young Ida who they both take under their wing. Mattie sees Ida as the future but, Ida sees a very different future and Mattie needs to change that, she did not fight for no reason.

This is a enthralling read, which did make me stop and think what became of the suffragettes and this is an ideal book to celebrate the centenary of those who fought so I can have a vote.  I enjoyed all the historical aspects of it and how I was taken back to the cells of Holloway and reminded that it was another ten years before all women had the vote.

This book is funny and moving and quietly powerful. The way the book is structured is perhaps  different from the norm (no defined chapters) but somehow this all adds to the story, as an old bag is found, old stories come tumbling out and they might well be able to define the future of women all over the world.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this book. 

Old Baggage will be published on 14 June.