It’s apposite, to use a Mattie word, that this book has been published one hundred years after some women got the vote.
Mattie is a woman of some means, living in Hampstead in 1928. Her glory days were as a militant suffragette and she’s still giving talks on that subject, aided by her friend and lodger, Florrie Lee (‘The Flea’). Unfortunately, the Great War got in the way and Mattie was left directionless and feeling a little let down by the cause.
However, fate intervenes, and Ida enters Mattie’s household as her housekeeper and newest project. Mattie is soon setting up a healthy outdoorsy club for girls of all backgrounds and it is pretty successful – until compared with The Empire League, a rival group set up by the Cellinis. Mrs Cellini was an erstwhile suffragette (although, The Flea doesn’t remember her doing very much except wafting about looking glamorous) and this new group is obviously modelled on the far-right groups beginning to crop up around Europe. To further complicate Mattie’s intentions, a girl named Inez, begins to attend Mattie’s group and she seems to have a strong link to Mattie’s past…
To some extent, this is a lighthearted look at the activities of women of a certain class after the war. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find a book teeming with things to say about injustice, about the role of women, and the pull of family, whether they’re related by blood or by a common cause.
With thanks to Netgalley for a pre-publication copy – Old Baggage will be published on Thursday 14th June 2018