Troubador Suffragette Autumn Women's Spring

Released: 28/04/2014

ISBN: 9781783063437

eISBN: 9781783066995

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Suffragette Autumn Women's Spring

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5.0 out of 5 stars Clever blend of fact and fiction, 16 April 2014
By
Bookie (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)
This review is from: Suffragette Autumn Women's Spring (Kindle Edition)
Ian Porter's story is a clever blend of fact and fiction, a slice of social history and is clearly meticulously researched. We meet the central fictional characters, Nash and Ruby, aboard the Titanic as she's sinking. Separated by circumstance, both survive the tragedy and there's an interesting glimpse of the immediate impact of the disaster in New York and Halifax, Nova Scotia. For those unfamiliar with what happened to survivors and the deceased, these chapters are an interesting overview. White Star do not come out of it well.

On returning to Britain, the two meet again and become involved in the Suffragette cause. As characters they are woven into key events alongside real people. Nash and Ruby have a distinct voice. They want social change and have that as a common, albeit slightly different, purpose.

There's a great deal of drama and the story gives account of numerous harrowing events as the Suffragette movement tries to broaden their appeal and influence. It's both compelling and moving to consider the fight and suffering others endured to win a social changes we too often take for granted. We see fearless pride with total dedication to a cause and belief. Ian Porter carefully explores a number of themes including social justice, empowerment, social convention and class distinction.

The book is well written and captures the central issues extremely well. My only reservation was that it occasionally failed to excite. For example, the Titanic scenes are well depicted, but a little flat and almost dispassionate. All the elements are there but it feels more like a factual account seen from above rather than the reader being within the events. That aside, it's an interesting read which gives context to an era of turbulent and too easily forgotten change.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional mix of fact & fiction., 25 May 2014
By
Sanz - See all my reviews
This review is from: Suffragette Autumn Women's Spring (Paperback)
INITIAL THOUGHTS
To be totally truthful I didn't read the whole description, I kind of got the gist the book was about suffragettes and saw the name Pankhurst and thought "wow I'd really like to read about them and what they got up to." Truthfully I couldn't have picked a better book for me to read! I did wonder if it was going to be list after list of protests etc or if the suffragette movement was going to be encapsulated within a believable story. I found out the more favourable choice of the latter was the case.

MY REVIEW
Had I seen this one on a book store shelf it is most definitely the type of book I would have picked up and filed away to read under the "something different" category. So the cover feature who I'd presume after reading the book to be Sylvia Pankhurst, then again it may be a depiction of the main female character throughout the whole book, Ruby. The cover does well to depict the era of the book and though perhaps not as eye catching as some covers I really would pick it up in a book store, so to me that means its done its job of enticing me to want to know more! The title of the book didn't enamor me, but hey it's the content that matters the most!
So the book is separated into parts, the first one being where we meet the main characters of the book who are in fact fictitious characters, Ruby and Nash. Ruby is working aboard the Titanic and Nash is a third class steerage passenger. Seeing I love most things Titanic I was mesmerized with this part of the book, of course the beguiling unsinkable Molly Brown got a mention. Though how could you write anything about that ship and not mention the larger than life Molly Brown. It is aboard the Carpathia rescue ship that Ruby is tentatively introduced to the suffrage movement. I really don't want to go into too many details and spoil the book for you so I'll try to be a little more general from here. Ian Porter certainly encourages you to become attached to both main characters and you really worry about them and want them to keep in touch after their shared drama aboard the Titanic. In the era the book takes place there was no counselling, the poor crew of the titanic were left to fend for themselves and recover from the trauma in their own ways.
The book tells the reader about the Pankhurst family, how the matriarch and one of the sisters becomes more and more violent in their protests and actions, but within the book we learn more about Sylvia, the sister who goes and lives amongst the people she wishes to represent and fight for. Sylvia believed the vote should be for all women not just those who owned property and were of the higher classes. This is how Ruby is introduced to Sylvia and becomes an activist too. The book tells the stories of some of the pranks that Sylivia's ladies got up to. The book also tells us of the serious side of the movement, the police brutality that was given out to these women. It also covers the imprisonment of the suffragettes and how they would go on not only hunger strike refusing all food but also on thirst strike. Under a new law once the suffragettes had become really ill they would be released but not before going through the horrors of being force fed. There are quite graphic descriptions of more than one force feeding.
I'd say this book covers all the facts and then adds some fiction to personalise what happened to the suffragettes to the reader. You do feel yourself being drawn further and further into to the book as you do naturally like Ruby and Nash. You do really become attached to Ruby and feel for her as a suffragette "prank" at a racecourse goes badly, devastatingly wrong. Some of these women did truly die for their cause, to get women the chance to vote.
Each main character in this book has complex and interesting back stories that we learn about during the book, as well as meeting some of their families. I was interested to read about the Titanic Welfare Fund, though it seems it was a benefit fought long and hard for. In the book Ruby's mother is entitled to it as her husband and Ruby's father was a baker on board the Titanic and sadly didn't survive. It was heartbreaking how these titanic widows were treat. Then there was the surviving crew of the Titanic whose pay stopped the minute the ship sank. They had to rely on charity or on telling their story about the Titanic to earn enough money to get by on until White Star could transfer them back home. That must have been the hardest journey most of them ever took. Having to get on another ship to get home after surviving the horror of the titanic sinking. I felt truly fascinated by this book. Indeed the author had found out the facts and then added a little fiction to make the story come to life for the reader.
So did I enjoy the book? I loved it, though it may seem macabre I do have an interest in all things Titanic, so I truly loved that part of the book and expected to feel saddened and perhaps not as interested in the rest of the book, but in the end I found the whole book highly interesting. The references to things really happening around the world, such as the Whitechapel Murders, (later called the ripper), the war and laws and politics at the time the book was set. Would I recommend the book? I'd recommend it highly to those interested in the Titanic, the suffrage movement, historical books and maybe even to teens looking for a book to do a project on. It's certainly a captivating read. Would I read another book about suffragettes? I think I would yes as this book has unearthed another appealing subject/genre. Would I read another book written by Ian Porter? I certainly would as the book felt well researched and was so detailed from the politics, to the clothes worn and down to the working class problems of the time and health problems that were rife in the era the book is set in. Whilst I was enthralled by the main parts of the book, I was at times attracted to the minute detailing in the story around the main plot too. I felt like as well as being entertained by reading the book, I was also learning new things and being educated about the era of the setting of the book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book from a great novelist, 17 April 2014
By
Claudio Restante (Civitavecchia, Roma Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Suffragette Autumn Women's Spring (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this book.
I could learn historical facts I didn't even know about, all made interesting thank to a great narration.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 12 Mar 2014
By
J F Stevens (Kent) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Suffragette Autumn Women's Spring (Paperback)
Another great read from Ian Porter. This novel had me gripped from the first page, with the return of the charismatic Nash, hero of Porter’s first novel, Whitechapel. We are plunged into a scene on the damaged Titanic, full of social class divisions that continue after the sinking. The book continues into the world of suffragette activism until 1914. It is a narrative encompassing great, feisty characters, with life-like dialogue within very well-researched social history. I enjoyed the story around the central character,Ruby, and its pace; the interesting, thought-provoking settings had me learning about important events during the fight for women’s votes.
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Suffragette Autumn Women's Spring

Suffragette Autumn Women's Spring by Ian Porter
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Historical Novel Society

Inside Maidstone magazine

Books Monthly

It's OK for intellectual feminists to like fashion

Female First

Novelised version of UK women's suffrage movement - rather compelling and would recommend as an an engaging introduction to the subject for those not so keen on factual history books.

by C. E.


I loved the way you set the scene on the Titanic, a world of segregated social classes, a mini replica of the real world. Every man and woman to his or her place. How bound each person was by the social norms of the day. How accepting people were of their lot within and allocation
to a decreed status. The 3rd class citizens, the poor and the wretched were so dependent on survival that it seemed impossible that their lives could be improved. Hence the need for a leader, a mouthpiece, a person or persons of means to lead and advance change for the better.

You also highlight how significant are our personal experiences from childhood. We never forget
them. Through new experiences and education we can learn to integrate into classes alien to us but always with an awareness of where we came from and how different it was. The meeting of the minds of Ruby and May ,the shared purpose for which they fought brought common ground. Usually it seemed the working class were expected to understand the needs and wants of the upper class but there was little evidence of the reverse being true. Only Sylvia ,full of empathy and of a practical nature realised the needs of the poor. How much that tea was welcome and in small portions at affordable price.

I loved the pride, loyalty and the humanity of the people who had so little. Family was and is so important. Men and women or women and men gave up their precious time for the cause.
Work gives dignity ,still applicable today. The community worked for the benefit of its members, strength in numbers and commitment.

I enjoyed your use of Ruby's racing knowledge which she imparted to the uninitiated. Nash has a wealth of knowledge and experience that was tapped into or that he decided to use to further the cause.

I loved your poignant expression when Ruby " kept an urgent appointment with the cobbles" when caught up in such a terrifying situation of violence.

The horror of the treatment of the suffragettes, able bodied or disabled, you vividly and effectively described, the railings treatment, the beating and the ultimate insult the repeated forced feeding. What relentless determination these women had and you portrayed it so well.

I can understand the different approaches of the suffragettes and the suffrages movements. When greater violence was used it was met with violence. Sylvia's way of demonstrating peacefully at the doors of Westminster as she was carried there unbelievably sick was so powerful, but was the result of her own cumulative personal suffering. She certainly recognised the power of her plan to shame Asquith but at what cost to her health.

I liked the gradual development of the relationship between Ruby and Nash, very realistic - the sparring and gruffness. How tentative we are in personal relationships no matter who we are or what age we are. How slow we are to come to a realisation that someone is important to us!

I was hooked in to your story, following the characters in this historic setting. Loved it.

by Hilary


Ian Porter's story is a clever blend of fact and fiction, a slice of social history and is clearly meticulously researched. We meet the central fictional characters, Nash and Ruby, aboard the Titanic as she's sinking. Separated by circumstance, both survive the tragedy and there's an interesting glimpse of the immediate impact of the disaster in New York and Halifax, Nova Scotia. For those unfamiliar with what happened to survivors and the deceased, these chapters are an interesting overview. White Star do not come out of it well.

On returning to Britain, the two meet again and become involved in the Suffragette cause. As characters they are woven into key events alongside real people. Nash and Ruby have a distinct voice. They want social change and have that as a common, albeit slightly different, purpose.
There's a great deal of drama and the story gives account of numerous harrowing events as the Suffragette movement tries to broaden their appeal and influence. It's both compelling and moving to consider the fight and suffering others endured to win a social changes we too often take for granted. We see fearless pride with total dedication to a cause and belief. Ian Porter carefully explores a number of themes including social justice, empowerment, social convention and class distinction.

The book is well written and captures the central issues extremely well. My only reservation was that it occasionally failed to excite. For example, the Titanic scenes are well depicted, but a little flat and almost dispassionate. All the elements are there but it feels more like a factual account seen from above rather than the reader being within the events. That aside, it's an interesting read which gives context to an era of turbulent and too easily forgotten change.

by Anita Wallas


Brilliant storyline, well researched and beautifully written. To link Ruby and Nash together on the Titanic then to weave in the story of the suffragette movement and Jack The Ripper would seem to be an onerous if not difficult read. Not so the story keeps you turning the pages well into the night. My only criticism as a Southampton girl born and bred is that Ruby wouldn't have caught a bus from the town to Northam it's Only a short step but that is a really trivial point. Lovely book, well done.

by Melita Sheppard


I requested this one from NEtgalley and received a free e-galley in exchange for my honest review.

I was quickly pulled into the book, as the first part takes place on the Titanic. Ruby, one of the main characters, is a "maid/servant" on the great vessel. Nashey is travelling across to America to try and make a new life for himself. They meet when all hell has broken loose on the "ship that couldn't sink". Nashey meets Ruby and they endeavor to get out to the life boats. They have to navigate through the ship and use servants passages as third class is still locked down. I think though Nashey is a third class passenger he shows himself to be more of a "gentleman" than the second and first class male passengers. We also learn of how poorly White Star treat their employees after the Titanic sunk. I mean, those who worked on the gigantic ship stopped getting paid the moment Titanic sank!

The rest of the book still features Ruby and Nashey, back in London. This part deals more with the Suffrage Movement and the factions within the movement itself. While the mother and one daughter were more extremists and the more subtle way of being a suffrage, the book also goes into how the women were treated when they are arrested for demonstrating – the manhandling of them by the police, and even a disabled protester being manhandled and literally tipped right out of her wheelchair. The book also covers the laws around force feeding prisoners who go on hunger strike.
And all the while this is happening, we see a sweet relationship developing between Nashey and Ruby, even though Nashey is quite a lot older than Ruby. Their chance encounter on the sinking Titanic turned into a lifelong friendship.

Did I enjoy the book? Yes I really did. I admit there was a small lull after the book switches from the Titanic back to London – the book seems to move more slowly there – but then it picks right back up.

by Ena Proctor


What a lovely story. Ian Porter is a writer of skill who turns a masterful hand to a story that's captivating and poignant.

by Claire Meadows


Ian Porter

Ian is an historian, writer, public speaker and walks guide. He spent his formative years living in St Johns, Lewisham, Catford and pretty much every other place in South East London (the full list sounds like a railway announcement) to which his restless parents moved. He obtained a degree in history at the University of Birmingham, where he was awarded the Chancellor's Prize, before becoming a ski journalist, during which time he wrote most of the original edition of the skiers' bible, Where to Ski. More recently he has written a novel, Whitechapel, set in the East End slums of 1888. This received very good reviews and has also proved popular with readers. he has also contributed to the non-fiction book, Jack the Ripper: the Suspects and writes articles and gives lectures on various elements of old East End life from the start of the industrial revolution through to the era of 'Call the Midwife'.

Having spent several years researching his second novel, which is set in the world of Suffragettes, he has become an expert on the militant fight for the vote for women, and regularly lectures on the subject. he has helped the National Portrait Gallery on a project involving Sylvia Pankhurst and regularly gives guided Suffragette tours through London's Westminster and Bow.

Ian's heroes/heroines are Sylvia Pankhurst, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, May Billinghurst and all the brave women and men who fought for the vote for women, and also the philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts and everyone with a plaque in Postman's Park.

Ian lives in mid Kent with another of his heroines, his wife (and novel editor) Jenny.

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