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The Ascent of Woman
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Group Reads Archive > March 2012- The Ascent of Woman by Melanie Phillips

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message 1: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
It's time for March's group read, The Ascent of Woman: A History of the Suffragette Movement and the Ideas Behind It by Melanie Phillips. Use this thread for comments about the book.

message 2: by Ally (last edited Mar 02, 2012 05:14AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
I'm only two chapters in - its OK but it's not a riveting as I hoped from the reviews I'd read beforehand. I do want to learn more about Mary Wollstonecraft though - she's such a fascanating figure, totally ahead of her time. Either that or we're reading more into it than what those early proponents of womens rights were trying to do.

Will be an interesting read I think...especially when we get to the characters from our period of interest.

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Well I'm almost half-way through this one and I have totally changed my mind - this book is absolutely fascinating. Its not unbiased and the feminist stance gets quite intese in places but the history and the women themselves were inspirational.

Its fascinating how the suffrage movement grew out of things like the married womens property bill and the establishing of a employment bureau for women, the contagious diseases acts, even slavery and vivisection. How the women were grappling with ideas of 'proper' womanhood so that even those who managed to enter the professions and bucked the trend of their time did not necessarily support womens suffrage. Florence nightingale even though that women made better nurses than doctors. The attempts to word the bills in such ways that did not explicitly forbid women from voting but - such as the householders aspects that allowed single women and widows a vote but not married women and the irony that the same arguments were used in the support of womens suffrage as the opposition to it. I think I'd like to read more about some of these characters such as Josephine Butler and Millicent Fawcett...and I haven't even got to our period of interest yet when things became so much more millitant!

I for one hadn't realised how nuanced and protracted the fight had been, now just how long it took to achieve. It makes me worried today that there is such apathy for voting.

I'm now storming through this book. has anyone else picked it up yet?

message 4: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I haven't had a chance yet to get over to the store to see if they have it. If they don't, then I can order it from B&N. You're making it sound real interesting.

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
I've just started the bits about Emmeline Pankhurst's early family life, education and marriage so I'm getting closer to our period of interest!

An interesting comment from a few pages ago was that the Boer War took all the headlines and the women started to think more militantly that if war was what it would take to shake the system then war was what they were going to get. - I can't believe these women (several generations of them) fought so long and kept getting knocked back for one reason or another and yet still picked themselves up and tried again.

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Oh dear...the Pankhurst are not coming across as very sympathetic characters ( far at least!).

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Well, I finished this book today. I have to admit that, although there are some amazing and fascinating aspects to this book, overall I was a little disappointed. It was very repetitious and the actual gaining of the vote (after over 100 years of effort) was a bit of a damp squib. - The war simply changed the world and made it seem ridiculous not to give women the vote. I have to say that I hoped there would be more to it than that!

message 8: by Bronwyn (new) - added it

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments You have me torn over wanting to read this or not, lol. I think I want to, but you worry me that it was repetitive and not quite what you hoped. I'd like to read on the subject though, as I haven't read much, so I may still try to find this.

message 9: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I'm with you, Bronwyn.

Ally's review has me torn as to whether I want to try and find this book or not.

Is this book more of a survey book?

Would it be better if we could find a more focused book on how the women got the vote? I haven't really looked for one.

message 10: by Ally (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
It's a hit and miss kind of book - the parts that were fascinating were a 5* read but other sections just dragged.

I think that this book was arranged broadly along chronological lines but with a secondary sort into 'themes' - in doing this the author needed to jump backwards and forwards in time to explore the theme or bring in quotes from people from a different time period to illustrate a particular point. This was irritating and led to quite a bit of repetition.

I'm on the fence - I'd say it was worth a read if you're interested in the subject matter but that there may be better explorations of this aspect of womens hostory on the market...somewhere (...its just soooooooo difficult to find!).

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