August Book Group - Old Baggage

SarasaSarasa Shipmate
The book group choice this month is Old Baggage by Lissa Evans. It's the story of a suffragette in middle age, and it was one of my favourite reads of last year. Funny and moving it is a quite short and easy read. You can find out more here.
Questions as usual on the 20th or thereabouts.

Comments

  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    I have a copy on order.
  • MiliMili Shipmate
    I have read almost half. Should be an interesting discussion!
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Great there will be three of us. I hope a couple of more will join us. It was a book I really enjoyed, but not one I had to think too hard about. An ideal holiday read if you are in the northern hemisphere.
  • MaramaMarama Shipmate
    I've got hold of it and I'm enjoying it so far. So I'll join in.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Really please @Marama.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    Picked up a copy on Saturday. Starting it this evening or tomorrow. I am in the midst of finishing of a book for a local graphic novel book club.
  • MiliMili Shipmate
    Just finished and see a sequel, V for Victory, is about to be released and that this book is a prequel to the first book in the series, Crooked Hearts. I enjoyed this enough to read on!
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Glad you enjoyed it @Mili. A dear friend brought it for me as she was sure I'd like it, and it was one of my favourite reads of last year.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    I am about 80 pages in and enjoying it immensely.
  • Oh duh. I'm too late to the party again! I'd have to order it online - I live in a bookshop free zone (sadly) - and by the time it got here the 20th will have passed on by. I must keep a closer eye on the Heaven board so that I give myself enough time to get hold of a copy of the book in time to read it before the deadline!
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    Finished it Friday. Looking forward to the discussion. I have not read a bad book club selection yet.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    @chasing shadows, the thread will be around for a while, so if you do get hold of copy you can always add some comments later. It is a pretty quick read.
    I'll post some questions on Thursday.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    It's the 20th so here are a few questions. As usual feel free to ignore or to add your own

    1. Did you find the historical setting convincing?
    2. Mattie, what did you make of her. Did you you like her?
    3. The men in this novel are very much on the periphery. Did you find that refreshing or would you have liked at least one to play a more major role?
    4. The ending, what did you make of that, and what do you think Mattie will do now.
    5. Any favourite characters or scenes?


  • MiliMili Shipmate


    1. Did you find the historical setting convincing?
    I think it was mostly convincing, but don't know much about the time period. History focuses on the World Wars, roaring twenties and the Great Depression, but 1928 seemed an uneventful year compared to those before and after,

    2. Mattie, what did you make of her. Did you you like her?
    I liked Mattie as a book character, but might find her somewhat exasperating in real life. I certainly wouldn't want to share a house with her. It was understandable that she wanted to help out her niece, but seemed out of character for her to cheat and the low point of the story.

    3. The men in this novel are very much on the periphery. Did you find that refreshing or would you have liked at least one to play a more major role?
    I didn't really notice!

    4. The ending, what did you make of that, and what do you think Mattie will do now.
    The ending was certainly surprising, but satisfying that Mattie and Florrie reconciled and Mattie was able to help Ida out both economically and with her child. I am reading Crooked Heart now, for which this book is a prequel, so I already know what Mattie does next.

    5. Any favourite characters or scenes?
    It was heart warming when Mattie and Florrie reunited. Florrie was my favourite character. I also liked some of the humorous scenes with the Amazons.



  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    1, The historical setting seemed realistic although there author did not seem to spend much time on trying to build an historical atmosphere. I loved Mattie. She was dedicate to helping comrades new and old. For Mattie, the ends justified the means. I thought the ending was fitting as Mattie got a replacement child. I loved Florrie's final scene of descending the staircase.
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    1. Did you find the historical setting convincing?
    It seemed pretty convincing to me. I liked the fact Evans didn't try to hard to include historical details, but it felt right for the time and place. I know Hampstead and the health, and I don't think it's probably changed that much over the years.
    2. Mattie, what did you make of her. Did you you like her?
    I liked Mattie a lot, though I think she would drive me mad if she was a friend of mine with her insistence that she is right, even when she probably isn't. I liked the way she mostly loved by her principles and she was kind. She also never gave up on anyone, which in part contributed to the disaster when she cheated over the quiz. She was so desperate to engage Inez that she told her the answer. She also had blind spots, but I liked that she was willing to listen when her friends told her about them.
    3. The men in this novel are very much on the periphery. Did you find that refreshing or would you have liked at least one to play a more major role? It was only on a second read that I realised that the male character feature so much on the edges. Evans draws them so well, that I saw them as playing a much more major part. The old friend she has lunch with, or the husband that brings a drink to the car. I thought the scene at the end when she realises that Inez's father is a good father was very telling.
    4. The ending, what did you make of that, and what do you think Mattie will do now. I wasn't sure, as it all seemed a bit far fetched, and I wasn't at all sure how you could make it a legal adoption. I must read the next book and find out. I was very glad that Ida, even if she didn't become a doctor, had the potential for a good career and a way to care for her aunt.
    5. Any favourite characters or scenes?. I thought the flea was a great character. I liked the way we gradually found out about her story.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    I thought the cheating was an acceptable to means towards a better ends.
  • MaramaMarama Shipmate
    1. Did you find the historical setting convincing?

    Yes I did – not so much the details as the atmosphere. I found the portrait of the ageing suffragettes particularly convincing, and their links with the women’s education movement. It is from this education (Mattie was at Somerville College Oxford, and there’s mention of Girton too) that they are able to enter the professions of teaching and social work. Social work was new at the end of the 19th century, and although there might be elements of ‘Lady Bountiful’, it was developing as a profession. It was this education that gave Mattie and Florrie the background to instruct the girls – and they thought such education should be available to all classes of girls, they should all learn to think and be critical. A bit bluestocking of course, but not to be laughed at. That group of women also had ambiguous relationships with other women, and sometimes overt lesbianism.

    2. Mattie, what did you make of her. Did you you like her?

    I liked her – strong, feisty and well-meaning, but also flawed as we see with the cheating on the treasure hunt. And she would indeed be irritating to live with.

    3. The men in this novel are very much on the periphery. Did you find that refreshing or would you have liked at least one to play a more major role?

    Like Mili and Sarasa I didn’t really notice. I did feel while I read it that there was something familiar about the style particularly in the middle sections, and then I realised – school and Guiding stories. There weren’t any men in them either. In fact the schools and colleges founded in the late C19 often and very deliberately had no men around at all, except perhaps the gardener or janitor. I still find the idea of men at Girton odd – none in my day except the man who fixed the bicycles.

    4. The ending, what did you make of that, and what do you think Mattie will do now.

    I need to read the sequels! I felt a certain ambiguity about Ida’s actions; delighted that she managed to get a education (and what a boon those late chances are) and become a nurse and provide for her aunt, but sad that she never got to really know Noel, though she had found a good home for him. Should she have cared for him herself? But there she hits the age-old dilemma – career or family, and I don’t grudge her choosing career.

  • MiliMili Shipmate
    I wonder if Simeon will ever find out he has a child. It seems the Cellinis weren't planning on seeing him again
  • SarasaSarasa Shipmate
    Caissa wrote: »
    I thought the cheating was an acceptable to means towards a better ends.

    I don't have Mattie down as a Utilitarian, rather the reverse, which is why the cheating seemed so out of character. It may be that she wasn't as free from prejudice about the intelligence of working class women as she thought she was. Florrie hints at that when she tells Mattie that Ida is someone worth investing in, even if she does come from a poor background.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    I disagree. Mattie was into projects. She was trying to boost the girl's spirits. Cheating to defeat fascism was fine in her books.
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