Daughters of Time by Mary Hoffman (editor)
|Daughters of Time by Mary Hoffman (editor)|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: Interesting collection of stories about thirteen remarkable women can be repetitive at times but features some real gems. Definitely worth a look; there's sure to be a few that you love!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: March 2014|
|Publisher: Templar Books|
|External links: Author's website|
This is an anthology aimed at tweens and younger teens on the subject of some of history's most remarkable women. It's an interesting idea, particularly as the usual suspects are perhaps avoided. No Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Victoria, or Florence Nightingale. Instead we get Boudica, Mary Seacole, Aphra Behn and Julian of Norwich, amongst others. It doesn't altogether work for me but there are enough strong stories to make it well worth a look.
My main problem with the collection is that there's a lot of fairly similar stories here - young girl meets older woman who imparts her wisdom, leaving the young girl thinking for the first time of doing something special with her life. That's not to say there's anything wrong with that as a plot for a short story, but it's a reasonable description of about half of these ones and gets repetitive.
Having said that, it does at least allow Anne Rooney's The Colours of the Day, a story about Amy Johnson which initially seems to be another of this type before taking a markedly different turn, to stand out. Rooney's contribution is one of the only three that I'd describe as a must-read, along with Celia Rees's tale of a young girl meeting Emily Davison on the train to Epsom on the day of that fateful Derby and Leslie Wilson's story of a girl protesting on Greenham Common while coming to terms with her own personal issues. (Coincidentally, since it's in chronological order, these three close the anthology - it's definitely a case of ending on a high note.)
Of the rest, Mary Hoffman's Learn To Die, with a man who used to teach Lady Jane Grey thinking back about his former pupil, stands out, capturing Lady Jane really well and is immensely moving considering how short it is. The best of the ones following the theme mentioned in my first paragraph are Katherine Langrish's All Shall Be Well about Lady Julian, who retired from the world to live in a small cell and become what Langrish describes as rather like the medieval version of a psychiatrist - a fascinating character - and Marie-Louise Jensen's A Night at the Theatre, about actress and former spy Aphra Behn, which really brings the 17th century to life well. None of the other stories are bad, but they didn't stand out for me much.
In addition to the stories themselves, there are facts about each of the women being written about, and the authors contribute a page or so on why they chose that particular person. All of these are interesting to read and add to the book's appeal.
Overall, I think there's enough of a variety in these 13 stories to make this worth recommending - if nothing else it's sure to introduce you to some new authors! I was already a fan of Marie-Louise Jensen and Celia Rees but it's definitely bumped Hoffman, Langrish, Wilson and Rooney up my 'to read' list.
As mentioned, I'm a fan of Marie-Louise Jensen's so would definitely recommend her Smuggler's Kiss, while another brilliant book from an author featured here is The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees. While I've somehow not read anything by Katherine Langrish her excellent story here makes me want to track something down and Jill's review of Dark Angels suggests it's not going to disappoint!
You can read more book reviews or buy Daughters of Time by Mary Hoffman (editor) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Daughters of Time by Mary Hoffman (editor) at Amazon.com.
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