1909, high society London, women only being seen as wives and mothers with their only purpose of keeping house and children in high society….. and then there’s Victoria (Vicky), the independent 17 year old attending art school in Paris who one day poses nude for the men in her class. Yep, she’s ahead of her time.
After being expelled from school she is shipped back to London in shameful disgrace (from society, not her own) to parents who not only don’t appreciate her artistic talent, but do not appreciate her independence. Vicky’s struggle to convince her parents to let her go to art school with men quickly connects her to the struggles of the time with suffragettes in Europe wanting the vote. Will Vicky realize her own dreams for equality to attend art school is the same struggle these women face with voting rights?
“This is why we all fight so hard. Not just for the vote, but for an equal opportunity in the world. A vote is a voice.”
Apparently Queen Victoria is quoted as saying the struggle for women’s equality was a ‘mad, wicked folly’. As for our Vicky, she struggles with choosing a life of freedom and one that is financial stable. She isn’t vain, but realistic and with the promise of the fiance to allow (I know right, “allow” irks me too) but at the time, the husband or father must allow freedom of the female…. so in allowing her to attend art school, Vicky is in agreement to marry. When she works with the suffragettes and meets people around town she doesn’t want to be the kept upper crust, society event driven female. She applies to art school with the help of a new, unpredictable stranger turned friend.
There are so many strong females in this novel. From Cumberbrunch, the ladies maid who secretly works for the suffragettes, to Lucy (the brazen American), to the wonderful Sylvia Pankhurst and even Vicky’s mom. Regardless of position or circumstance, these ladies provide many strong characters who fight for equality.
As many do, Vicky must decide which life she wants to live – the one in which life seems easy and laid out for her or the one that is worth fighting for. This is the story of females fighting for equality.
An added bonus to this novel is there are Author’s Notes about the time period, hunger strikes, Edwardian clothing, and Votes for Women information, but a legitimate bibliography.
Historical Fiction at its finest.