Until We Win by Linda Newbery

Until We Win

Until We Win by Linda Newbery

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Until We Win by Linda Newbery is a slender, accessible novella touching upon a key point in suffragette history. It’s framed through the perspective of Lizzy, an everygirl who comes across the work of the suffragettes and becomes a passionate supporter of the cause. Believing in Deeds Not Words, she undertakes action until she – like her sisters – is imprisoned. The backdrop to all of this is the build up to World War One, and there’s a little introduction and prologue delivered retrospectively by Lizzy where she looks back and talks abut the Summer that was and the years that followed.

Barrington Stoke deliver, in their words, ‘super readable’ texts and this is a worthy addition to their list. It’s deeply accessible, both through format and style, and there’s a lot to give somebody here. It’s perfectly pitched for those who may feel unable or intimidate by thicker, heavier books and could work as a nice lead-in and confidence booster. I also enjoyed the note from Stewart Easton which explained his reasoning behind the cover design. This sort of thing is so important because it tells you who’s ‘behind’ the book, as it were, but also encourages readers to question and think about the book as a whole. It’s never just about the words on the page.

I was impressed at how much Newbery packs into this. I have such a lot of time for her as a writer, and love what she does. I found some of the beats she touches here a little familiar and thus not as startling as they could be, but if you’re new to the topic then that may slide you by. I’m also going to take this moment to suggest that you head towards Newbery’s kind of remarkable back catalogue. Here’s a few I’ve reviewed.

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Moose Baby : Meg Rosoff

Moose BabyMoose Baby by Meg Rosoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like Meg Rosoff. I like how she gets to the heart of her characters. I like how she writes with a KM Peyton-esque precision. And I like her warmth and the way she doesn’t look down on people (or mooses… moosei?). There’s very rarely a Rosoff that does not shine with this non-judgemental … kindness? I think that’s what I mean. She doesn’t judge her characters. She just presents them – as is. And that’s a great and rare gift.

Moose Baby is a very brilliant, very short story that glows with all of the above. It’s published by Barrington Stoke and is ‘dyslexia-friendly’. The chapters are brief and pithy and read almost as if Alan Ayckbourn did YA. That sort of nuanced, sharp domestic writing. Writing which is very much framed in the domestic sphere, around families and love and life, but at the same time viciously funny and astute.

I liked this a lot. It’s short and tight and is a masterclass in ‘short story’ writing, with an ending that made me grin. Meg Rosoff is very, very splendid at what she does.

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