Old Baggage by Lissa Evans review – suffrage and showdowns

In this bittersweet comic novel set in 1928, a veteran of the women’s suffrage movement refuses to give up the fight

Mattie Simpkin, former suffragette, is referred to by the disparaging epithet of the book’s title only once, by an insignificant young man (all the males in this novel are peripheral). It’s 1928 and at last the suffrage is to be extended to women over 21. It doesn’t come soon enough for Emmeline Pankhurst, who dies mere weeks before the act is passed, but Mattie and her fellow radicals, now stout and bedraggled, can finally celebrate victory. Except that Mattie is not the sort of person who can relax. A chance discovery leads to a daring plan of action, which risks being scuppered by the other kind of old baggage – the emotional sort.

Evans’s previous comic novel, Their Finest Hour and a Half, about the making of ...