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Old Baggage

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,300 ratings  ·  258 reviews
What do you do next, after you’ve changed the world?

It is 1928. Matilda Simpkin, rooting through a cupboard, comes across a small wooden club – an old possession of hers, unseen for more than a decade.

Mattie is a woman with a thrilling past and a chafingly uneventful present. During the Women’s Suffrage Campaign she was a militant. Jailed five times, she marched, sang, gav
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 14th 2018 by Macdonald
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Kate Absolutely - the copy I had essentially told me nothing of consequence. About a third into the novel I spent some time looking up the author and…moreAbsolutely - the copy I had essentially told me nothing of consequence. About a third into the novel I spent some time looking up the author and relooking at the cover, the endorsements are what decided me to read it. Turns out I had an uncorrected proof so maybe I'm really not one to

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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,300 ratings  ·  258 reviews

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Diane S ☔
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor-2019
The year is 1928 and the vote has finally been given to all women 21 or older. Mattie, was one of the Suffragettes, remembers well their mistreatment at the hands of the police. Remembers being thrown in jail, the hunger strikes and all the nasty newspaper articles. Yes, she is much older now, but doesn't rest on her laurels, rather she travels and gives speeches about the Suffragette movement, complete with slides. A chance encounter with a past comrade in arms, has Mattie starting a club for t ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
I really enjoyed this character study! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Matilda Simpkin is living in 1928 London. She’s found a wooden club, something she hasn’t seen for a while, and along with it comes the memories she associates with that item.

You see, Mattie was a suffragette years earlier. She was jailed five times and was quite the spitfire. She longs for that excitement and purpose again. She finds her life boring by comparison now.

Mattie runs into an old friend and fellow suffragette who is fighting for Fascis
Louise Wilson
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's 1928. Matilda Simpkin, rooting through a cupboard, comes across an old wooden club - an old possession of hers, unseen for more than a decade.

Mattie (Matilda) was a militant during the Women's Suffrage Campaign. She has given speeches, marched, smashed windows, she's even heckled Winston Churchill. You name it and Mattie has probably done it. She's even been jailed five times. Twirling the wooden club, she has an idea, but is it a good one?

Mattie feels she has no purpose in life. She's now
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An utterly charming, substantive, and emotionally textured novel
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mattie Simpson has appeared in a previous novel, “Crooked Heart,” and I was delighted to meet up with her again. It is 1928 and Mattie is living in Hampstead Heath with Florrie Lee, ‘the Flea.’ Both were heavily involved in the suffragette movement and Mattie still gives talks about women’s rights.

The story begins when Mattie, striding across the Heath, has her bag stolen. Attempting to stop the thief, she accidentally hurts young Ida Pearse, who later threatens to press charges, due to loss of
In many ways the title, Old Baggage, gives a clue to themes explored in the book. For example, some of those who come into contact with Mattie Simpkin, with her no-nonsense attitude and forthright manner, would probably regard her as a bit of an ‘old baggage’. Mattie believes in the benefits of physical exercise, the great outdoors and that, despite the changes brought about by the women’s suffrage movement, the fight needs to carry on if women are to achieve true equality. As she says: “The bat ...more
I've finished Old Baggage and I am bereft! This is beautiful, beautiful writing with characters that live and breathe. I loved Mattie in Crooked Heart. How wonderful to spend more time with her. I just hope we meet her again. This is a gorgeous, warm novel and I can't recommend it enough. Review to follow very shortly on For Winter Nights.
Britta Böhler
I enjoyed the setting, the characters and the historical references (suffragette movement), but the plot didn't quite do it for me.
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
Absolutely loved this story. Read this for the prompt for “inter war Europe” for (Reading Through the Ages). Story of a former suffragette who in 1928 feels herself at a bit of a loose end. What do you do once the fight seems over? Clearly you go and find a new battleground. In my head this will be on the Walter Scott longlist at least.
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
I enjoyed the lively writing, and the light weave of feminist history. Otherwise, a humongous disappointment: what could have been a profound exploration of personal and political reinvention in the lives of aging suffragettes devolved into a silly, bloated story with all the nuance of a TV movie for children, crowded with underdeveloped characters and stripped of any power by the inanest of moral lapses at the center of its ridiculous plot.
Eric Anderson
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
It’s been a few years since I read Lissa Evans’ excellent novel “Crooked Heart”, but I remember loving her vivid characters and witty writing style. So when I heard that her new novel is a prequel to this earlier book I become intensely curious. “Crooked Heart” opened with a poignant description of Mattie, an aging intellectual who was very active in the Suffragette movement, before describing the journey her ward Noel takes out of London to escape the The Blitz in 1940. “Old Baggage” tells Matt ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first five star read of the year! A delight!
Lissa Evans in a genius when it comes to characterization. No one can touch her.
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
An absolute delight. I adored it in all the ways.
Karen Mace
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an astonishing book!!

In Matilda Simpkins, there is a character with so much depth and background to explore - it's just that she has reached a point in her life where her past was a million more times exciting than her present! She used to be part of the suffragete movement and her time fighting for the rights of women saw her jailed a number of times, attending numerous marches and even heckling Churchill. And now in middle age she finds nothing even comes close to recreating that buzz an
Joanne D'Arcy
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stop and think about this title of the latest book from Lissa Evans.

Old Baggage, can mean different things to different people. It can be used as a description of some older lady, past her prime and of no use to anyone or society. It can be the baggage we bring from the past into the present. It can be actual tangible items, it can be thoughts, emotions and feelings. It can simply be an old bag with treasures inside that has sat unopened for a long time.

But what if it is all those things as Liss


Visit the locations in the novel

This was such a joy to read and extremely apt and poignant in the year we’re all supporting and remembering what these woman did for us. These were the early days of feminism and women’s rights but it’s told in such a poignant, warm witty way that it feels like you’re stepping into a sepia photo, a moment in history with some of the loveliest women I’ve met in a book. I really wanted them to pop by for a cup of tea after I’d read it, I missed them so much!

Lissa Ev
Robin Stevens
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Lissa's writing - it's funny, uncompromising and quietly beautiful. This story, about a suffragette trying to work out where she fits into the world now that her cause has been won, is wonderfully poignant and lovely. (14+)

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. If you use it in any marketing material, online or anywhere on a published book without asking permission from me first, I will ask you to remove that use immediately. Thank you!*
Davida Chazan
I can't resist historical fiction novels, especially ones set in England or ones about the Suffragette Movement. Author Lissa Evans gave me all of this in her novel "Old Baggage" and you can read my #bookreview of this work on my blog here.
An enjoyable tale of a suffragette trying to find new purpose in life once the vote for women has been won. I liked the main character very much and enjoyed the witty dialogue but felt that the overall story lacked a certain narrative drive. Overall though, a good light "up-lit" read. 3.5 stars, raised to 4.
DNF @ 10%

The story of an elderly suffragette who now leaves a comfortable life decides to leave that comfort behind and get out there and continue to make a difference. Maybe I didn’t give it long enough but such a powerful subject matter needed to be more engaging. The writing was well done and the historical research was evident but it was, unfortunately, a bit dry.

I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the
Jackie Law
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In Lissa Evan’s previous novel, Crooked Heart, the reader is briefly introduced to Mattie Simpkin, an elderly lady who was once a suffragette. Old Baggage is set a decade earlier and offers further details on the life of this idiosyncratic character. Neither book relies on the other for its story but, having enjoyed the earlier work, I was delighted by the links that exist.

The tale opens in 1928. Mattie is walking across Hampstead Heath when she is assailed by a memory, her momentary distraction
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
easy going read and written nicely based in late 1920's when all women finally get the vote. initially took a little while to get into book but may seek out other books from this author
Grace J Reviewerlady
Miss Matilda Simpkins, unmarried woman of a certain age is an educated former suffragette who prides herself on her ability to point out to others where they are going wrong with their lives. It's hard to try and recreate the busy glory days when, along with many others, they had a common goal and a fight on their hands. What Mattie needs is to occupy her time with a cause ...

Set in the 1920's, this is such an engaging and stimulating read. I thought the protagonist reminded me of someone, but I
Jan 15, 2019 marked it as maybe

'I think the middle-aged woman is largely invisible. Things are changing a little but I do think women are lumped into a category over the age of fifty' @LissaKEvans on exploring the myths of middle-age in our Fiction Book of the Month, Old Baggage: … #WBOTM
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I had this book sat on my kindle for some time before I got around to reading it, but once I started I couldn't put it down and read it in three sittings over less than 24 hours. It centres around a militant suffragette, Mattie, and 'what came next' after the vote had been won and after it was clear that it was going to be extended equally to all men and women. Mattie is a wonderful character, larger than life in many ways, loud, slightly obnoxious, with no real empathy, but with an energy, dedi ...more
Lynn Horton
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it
In a word, ponderous.

I wanted to like this book, but it was slow in the extreme. While there’s no doubt that the author did her research and can write, the pacing killed the story for me. I couldn’t relate to the characters (which is odd, because the women’s movement is close to my heart), either. Maybe I’m looking for another type of summer read, one with more action, with more streamlined dialogue. Maybe I should have read Old Baggage in the dead of winter.

Unfortunately, not recommended.
Annette Mouat
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh what a cool and clever book, a jolly hockey sticks sort of book!

The story begins in 1928, and the central character is Mattie Simpkin, a former suffragette. Mattie is delightful, intelligent, flawed and bored, and now that women have been granted the vote, Mattie is looking for another challenge in her life. Much of the story is set around Hampstead Heath, where Mattie lives with her dear friend, affectionately know as "The Flea".

I loved the jaunty style of writing, lurching along from event
Emma French
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. This was pressed upon me in a bookshop and, not wanting to be rude, I bought it (how British, right?). However, it was a delight. I loved Mattie and the suffragette history was fascinating. Comforting, clever, funny but not without sadness, I'm just sad it had to end...
Kathy Stevens
Jan 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Atrociously poorly written, and containing intact, several-page-long lectures where you're invited to sit and listen to a flat character deliver schoolroom speeches on feminism, complete with slides.
I thought this was probably a children's writer, and it turns out she is. I only hope her kids' books have more sparkle than this.
Waterstones book of the month, no less.
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly lovely read, easygoing and uplifting. I can imagine rereading this book very soon.
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After a brief career in medicine, and an even briefer one in stand-up, Lissa Evans became a comedy producer, first in radio and then in television. Her first novel, Spencer's List, was published in 2002, and since then she has written three more books for adults (two of them longlisted for the Orange/Baileys Prize) and two for children (the first of them shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal). Her tw ...more
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