editor's choice



‘For everyone, everywhere, who believes in freedom and equality for all’: the dedication to The Word for Freedom, a short story anthology celebrating one hundred years of women’s suffrage, speaks for itself. At the very heart of the collection, edited by Amanda Saint and Rose McGinty, is the fact that ‘we still need words for freedom’. Words, our voices, are our strongest forms of fighting injustice and oppression, which is why, so often, the first thing that oppressors do is silence us.

The twenty-four stories are wide-ranging and eclectic, thought provoking and moving, picking up on themes relating to the suffragettes and also issues still pertinent to the world we live in today.

Every one of the tales featured in this tightly curated collection is strong in its own way, revealing the reality of the various female protagonists’ worlds, whether it be Sallie Anderson’s Mary voting for the very first time, bullied by her husband, but staying true to ‘One Woman, One Vote’, the heroine of Kate Vine’s rather beautiful ‘The Colour of Sunflowers’, preparing to face her abuser at trial or Anna Mazzola’s narrator in ‘The Silent Woman’, a domestic slave, awakening to her desperate situation as ‘an animal, chained; its fur worn away, its eyes dull’ and yet cherishing the hope of seeing her children again. The book takes its title from Isobel Costello’s opener, featuring two women who are bound, in different ways, to abusive men, and ends with them sharing a moment of symbolic gesture.

These stories are written to honour the women who fought hard so that we might be treated equally and have a proper voice; they also, quite rightly, highlight how far we still have to go before that happens. I am particularly delighted to review this volume here, not just because the short story form is a particular love and The Word for Freedom certainly contains particularly good examples of it, but also because my mother was a strong advocate for women’s rights: she taught us that the right to vote is an honour and a privilege and something that shouldn’t be abused or taken for granted. Proceeds from the volume are also going to support Hestia and the UK Says No More campaign against sexual and domestic violence. Please buy this book.


The Word for Freedom | anthology | Retreat West Books| 1 November 2018 | paperback | £8.99 | ebook also available

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Acknowledgements: Quoted text pages viii, 155 © The authors and Retreat West Books 2018. This review is published as part of a virtual book tour. Many thanks to lovely Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for organising it, to the publisher for providing a review copy and to the editors and contributors for providing such a lovely collection celebrating all we have achieved and all that must come. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved. Image © The Literary Shed 2018.


Also of interest: ‘The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;We should all be feminists’; ‘RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets’; ‘Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng’s rising star’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘Johana Gustawsson’s Keeper – indie publisher Orenda does it again‘; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut – The Dry‘; To Kill a Mockingbird (1962 trailer); An Alaskan epic – Rosamund Lupton’s The Quality of Silence‘; ‘The beauty of Sara Taylor’s The Shore’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).


This review is © 2018 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do request permission. Thank you so much.


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