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Old Baggage

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  3,398 ratings  ·  500 reviews
The author of the acclaimed Crooked Heart returns with a comic, charming, and surprisingly timely portrait of a once pioneering suffragette trying to find her new passion in post-WWI era London.

1928. Riffling through a cupboard, Matilda Simpkin comes across a small wooden club—an old possession that she hasn’t seen for more than a decade. Immediately, memories come floodin
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 16th 2019 by Harper Perennial (first published June 14th 2018)
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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 reloo…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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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Diane S ☔
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 Fa
Louise Wilson
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
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
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suffragettes
One of the things I liked about this book is the fact that the protagonist is a woman in her late 50s. This is a prequel to Evans’s novel Crooked Hearts and continues the story of Mattie Simpkin a former suffragette. The time is 1928 and Mattie Simpkin tours the country giving talks about the suffragette movement and women are about to vote for the first time. Mattie lives in Hampstead in a house called The Mousehole. A reference to the Cat and Mouse Act, one of the pieces of legislation used to ...more
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
Richard Derus
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Real Rating: 4.25* of five

More than four, just not quite up to a whole half-star up. For all that I liked the read, it was very sentimental and a bit heart-stringy.

No one who lives, fully lives, their life escapes without regrets and anger and bad feelings trailing behind them like farts. But the best, the luckiest, of us find that the trip forward is much less bitter and lonely when we offer real apologies for the hurts and harms we've done. Unthinking unkindnesses, impatient snappings, all can
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.
Eric Anderson
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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.
Mary Pagones
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lissa Evans is one of those writers who can really write--so many fine, quotable sentences throughout this book made me laugh (genuinely) aloud. She can create memorable, over-the-top characters who spring off the page, vibrating with life. Mattie Simpkin, former suffragette, is one of them, an upper-class woman who was passionate about The Cause and now searches for new meaning in life by beginning her own society of young Amazons in a public park.
So why only four stars? I must confes
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. ...more
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
An absolute delight. I adored it in all the ways.
Karen Mace
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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.


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!

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. ...more
Mar 21, 2019 marked it as dnf
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
Vicki Antipodean Bookclub
“Moodiness had always baffled her - the way it placed the onus on the other person to gauge which breeze of circumstance was the cause of this particular weathercock twirl. If one were cross about something, then one should simply say so; conversation should not be a guessing game.”
Matilda Simpkin is a veteran of the women’s suffrage movement. She survived jail, police beatings and force-feeding buoyed by the camaraderie of her fellow suffragettes. By 1928, Mattie finds herself without a caus
Jx PinkLady Reviews ♡ @bookwormthoughts
A gentle story set at the end of the 1920s and weaved with a suffragette's history. Whilst reading the early chapters I thought I was going to really enjoy the novel, I was interested in the plight of the female protagonist and her past experiences. I wanted to hear what she had to say but, in the end, I think maybe there was not quite enough punch in the narrative for my personal reading tastes. Friends of mine have read and enjoyed and I'm looking forward to chatting about it when we next meet ...more
Jenny Cooke (Bookish Shenanigans)
A complete joy exploring feminism, class and female friendship.
Jackie Law
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jo Chambers
A delightful novel about a feisty woman, set in London in 1928.
Matilda Simpkin was a militantsuffragette back in the day, immersing herself in the fight for womens' suffrage. Protest marches, hunger strikes, she's done it all for The Cause. But what does she do with herself now that women have the vote? Matilda is without purpose (she has no need to work! :D ). Some of her former comrades have turned to left or right wing politics. Matilda decides to throw herself into encouraging girls and you
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
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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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