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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

No Give up by Scarlett and Sophie Rickard assessment – the lengthy struggle for girls’s rights revisited | Books

Constance Maud’s suffragette novel No Give up, first printed in 1911, isn’t what I’d name an attractive learn, nevertheless genuine a document it might be of its writer’s occasions (Maud, the daughter of a Surrey rector, joined the Ladies’s Freedom League in 1908, and thereafter participated enthusiastically in the identical sort of peaceable civil disobedience as her characters). Whereas it’s true that Emily Wilding Davison, the girl who would later be trampled beneath the King’s horse at Epsom, adored it, feeling that it breathed the very “spirit of our ladies’s motion”, most trendy readers have a tendency to search out it plodding and cliched, its story by no means fairly flaring to life.

All of which presents one thing of a possibility for Scarlett and Sophie Rickard, the sisters whose final e book was a graphic adaptation of Robert Tressell’s equally earnest novel of battle and socialism, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – and boy, do they rise to it. Of their arms, No Give up is newly charming, its infelicities smoothed each by Sophie’s fleet approach with speech bubbles and by Scarlett’s completely pleasant illustrations. Each web page appears to be like splendid, whether or not we’re huddled within the kitchen of a tiny terrace within the fictional mill city the place the story begins, or lazing in the summertime sunshine on the expansive lawns of its extra upper-class protagonists.

Jenny Clegg, who works lengthy hours in a Lancashire weaving shed, can solely look on as her mom’s pitiful financial savings are squandered by her gambler father and her sister’s kids are shipped to Australia in opposition to her needs by her violent, controlling husband. However she refuses to be completely helpless. Issues should change for girls. Impressed by her aristocratic good friend Mary O’Neil, she joins the battle for the vote, a choice that can set her in opposition to the person she loves, quickly to be elected a Labour MP (No Give up stands as a reminder that many working males have been simply as firmly against common suffrage as these from the center and higher lessons). It is going to additionally see her spending three weeks in Holloway Jail.

A strip from No Surrender
A web page from No Give up. Illustration: Scarlett and Sophie Rickard

The Rickards have achieved their analysis, and their narrative is filled with sensible set items: an indication in parliament that ends in the removing of the grille behind which feminine guests to the gallery historically needed to sit; a cocktail party at which Jenny, working undercover as a maid, ambushes the politicians who’re among the many hostess’s company over their fish course; an enormous and wonderful march on the streets of London (for optimum impression, the latter is on pages that fold out). We additionally watch as O’Neil, on starvation strike in Holloway, is pressure fed (that is so delicately achieved).

A love story is certainly buried someplace within the e book’s politics. However ultimately, No Give up, in its comedian e book kind, includes comparatively little debate, and even high-minded dialog. As Emmeline Pankhurst had it: “Deeds, not phrases, was to be our everlasting motto.” The Rickards’ suffragettes, ever stout-hearted and ingenious, are motion heroines in lengthy clothes and hobnail boots. I discovered them completely irresistible, and I hope that my older nieces will really feel precisely the identical approach after I current them with this e book at Christmas time.

No Give up by Scarlett and Sophie Rickard is printed by SelfMadeHero (£18.99). To assist the Guardian and Observer order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Supply expenses could apply

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