Women can. That’s the message in Frances Hardinge’s award winning The Lie Tree. Being female does not mean being feeble, even 150 years ago. I really, really enjoyed this book, and can only say I should have read it a long time ago. I’m not in the slightest surprised it won the Costa, despite it being a ‘mere children’s book.’ This is fully grown fiction.
14-year-old Faith wants to be a scientist like her father, but back in the days when Darwin was an ugly word, it was seen as laughable that a female of any age could or should be doing anything but wait to be married, and then bear children.
The family move to a small island where the locals are suspicious of them. When her father is found dead, Faith vows to work out how he died. This is early crime fiction with a scientific angle, and Faith is young and a little naïve, but quite capable nevertheless.
Her mother tries to deal with matters in a totally different way, and Faith hates her for this. She just wants to clear her father’s name. And to be a scientist; to be allowed to be intelligent.
When she is patronised by the local doctor, also the coroner, ‘Faith wondered whether it would benefit the doctor’s investigation if he experienced a cliff fall first-hand.’ This made me laugh out loud.
Wonderful period crime novel with a twist.
And remember that women most difinitely can.