Star by Star

This was a book worth waiting for. It’s the one Sheena Wilkinson talked about in Oxford three years ago, on the topic of suffragettes. She also talked about the Spanish flu and WWI.

And now, a little over one hundred years after those times, we have our own pandemic and if I hadn’t known Sheena wrote Star by Star before Covid, I’d have nodded as she describes what measures they take and how people worry. As if she knew. I mean, she presumably did, because there is such a thing as research, but now we all know.

This book is about women, and for women. The heroine, the aptly named Stella, has travelled from her home in Manchester to Northern Ireland to live with her aunt after her mother very suddenly dies of the flu. Both fervent suffragettes, they had worked hard for the cause.

And now, a month after the end of the war, there is an election, and women – albeit only those over 30 and property owners – are allowed to vote for the first time. As are men of all ages, for the first time. It’s both a gender and a political issue, especially in Ireland.

Stella is only fifteen, but she has been trained well by her mother, and she thinks of the cause before anything else. This is just the right book for International Women’s Day. And it’s yet another reminder of how hard women worked for the right to have their say, which far too many are willing to ignore today.

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