As promised I have another book review for you today. This continues along the theme of history books about women. This time I’ve gone a tiny bit further back in time to the early 20th century.
Last week I finished reading Margot at War, a biography of Margot Asquith by Anne De Courcy. Margot Asquith was the wife of the prime minister during the First World War. Her story runs alongside a hugely turbulent era for the country and for politics and it makes for a hugely interesting and informative read.
I instantly liked Margot, partly because she is one one women who has never been described as a ‘great beauty’ as way too many women are. Margot was very ordinary looking and had a crooked nose as a result of a riding accident. What she lacked in beauty was made up for by an incredible dress sense, intelligence and generosity.
The books talks about so many fascinating topics, including in depth details on the Liberal Party at the time as well as the political issues that surrounded the country being at war. The details on the Great War told from the point of view of people at the time is deeply heartbreaking and made the terrible loss of life and suffering all the more poignant, than any book I’ve read before.
One of the most interesting parts of the book was the bits that talk about the Suffragette movement. Looking back from a female perspective 100 years on I personally hail these women as heros. Every time I vote I say a little thank you to each and every women who fought for my rights. From the perspective of Margot and other people at the time you see them more as terrorists. These parts of the book are just fantastically written and shone the movement in a new light to me.
There was only one real downside of the book to me. Where the book goes into a huge amount of detail about the era and about other people in Margot’s life, I feel that I didn’t really learn enough about her. There was not a massive connection between the reader and the subject of the book. I felt hugely engaged in her husbands life and that of his lover Venetia, who’s affair covers huge swathes of the book.
I feel like while researching the book, the author uncovered more letters, information and sources on other people than she did on Margot. Considering the book is over 350 pages long, it is perhaps bulked out with a lot of information on the world around Margot as opposed to her herself. I did enjoy reading excerpts from her letters and diary though. I certainly felt her pain and loneliness when at times she felt her husband slipping away or suffered at the hands of his daughter.
This in no way diminishes how fantastic the book actually is. Although I came away without feeling like I knew Margot, I enjoyed every single word and page of the book. It is beautifully written, well researched and deeply engaging. I was engrossed in this small snapshot of a truly fascinating era of British history. It appealed to my political side as well as the part of me that has a never ending thirst for history.
I’d recommend the book to anyone interested in politics, women history and the first world war. Seeing the events from the point of view of those living in Downing Street at the time is well worth the time taken to read the book.
Buy the book on Amazon.
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