Suffragettes and a Really Good Book

This month marks the one-hundred-year anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the U.S. I decided to begin my own celebration of the occasion by reading a book set during the early 1900s when women were advocating/fighting for the right to vote.

The book I chose was Impossible Saints: A Novel by Clarissa Harwood. I thought it was going to be a romance set against the English suffragette movement, but it turned out to be so much more. Here’s the opening line:

The day her pupil’s father threw Lilia Brooke’s copy of Homer’s Odyssey across the schoolroom was the day she knew she’d have to leave Ingleford. Given time, she could forgive most offenses, but all bets were off if violence was done to her favorite book.

I felt an immediate connection to Lilia Brooke (I don’t like people who make dog-ears, cracked spines, or torn pages in books, either). Besides being a book lover, Lilia is a hard-working, spirited suffragette, willing to risk her life for voting rights for herself and future generations of women.

By contrast, Paul Harris is an Anglo-Catholic priest who doesn’t want to rock the boat. He prefers a quiet life and reading religious texts to the company of his fellow human beings.

But this book goes well beyond the opposites-attract trope. The author skillfully integrates a healthy amount of information about the early English suffrage movement, without detracting in any way from the intimate story of Lilia and Paul.

In fact, I had a hard time putting this book down, and several scenes still stay with me, days after I finished the last page. And that, I think, is the measure of a really good book.

Impossible Saints: A Novel by Clarissa Harwood is available on Amazon and other print and e-book retailers.

Note: I don’t receive any compensation for recommending this book; I just like to share good books I find with others.

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