Tuesday, December 2, 2014

book review: Sally Heathcote, Suffragette by Mary M. Talbot and Kate Charlesworth

The basics: Sally Heathcote, Suffragette tells the story of the British suffrage movement through the story of (fictional) Sally Heathcoate, who begins this graphic novel as a maid for the (real) Pankhursts.

My thoughts: I have long had a fascination with the U.S. and British women's suffrage movements, and I was excited to see the British suffrage movement depicted in a graphic novel. Perhaps because I was so familiar with the key public moments depicted in this graphic novel, I was quite drawn to its art. There's a beautiful intentionality to Charlesworth's use of color. As depicted on the cover, Sally's red hair is often one of the few bursts of color in early panes. Yet as the story develops, and the different groups fighting for suffrage argue, their different colors shine brightly in the often otherwise black and white panels.

The ruse of inserting a fictional character into an otherwise factual tale is typically a device I adore. In this case, Sally's trajectory struck me as a bit too convenient at times. As a narrative device, it certainly helped place her at key moments, but it sometimes felt forced. As a character, Heathcote was often the least exciting. Given the numerous pages of footnotes that follow the panes, part of me wishes Talbot would have opted to tell a true history rather than historical fiction.

The verdict: Mary M. Talbot deftly employs a fictional character to bring together a graphic novel with rich historical detail. Charlesworth's drawings are stunning, and her strategic use of color underscores and illuminates the story beautifully.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 163 pages
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Source: library

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Sally Heathcote, Suffragette from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit Mary M. Talbot's website, follow her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

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  1. I loved everything about this graphic novel, but particularly the ending. One of the most powerful endings I've read in a long time.

  2. Hi there, looks like a fab book! How about adding your review to the Books You Loved collection over at Carole's Chatter? Cheers


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