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1909: the beginning of an effervescent century, and there she was, Ann Veronica Stanley, almost two-and-twenty, walking down the streets of London, a girl who carried in her bag books and pamphlets, a young woman whose feminist sensibilities were awakening, a feisty heart who understood that in order to regain control over her life and wishes, ”It’s now or never”.
Long before burning their bras during public protests, wearing the minijupe or enjoying the benefits of the birth control pill, the sufragettes who were taking the British Parliament by storm in 1908 represented the New Woman, one who dared to be different, unsubmissive and determined and express her difference by studying, loving and fighting for her rights.
”Ann Veronica Stanley was twenty-one and a half years old. She had black hair, fine eyebrows, and a clear complexion; and the forces that had modelled her features had loved and lingered at their work and made them subtle and fine. She was slender, and sometimes she seemed tall, and walked and carried herself lightly and joyfully as one who commonly and habitually feels well, and sometimes she stooped a little and was preoccupied. Her lips came together with an expression between contentment and the faintest shadow of a smile, her manner was one of quiet reserve, and behind this mask she was wildly discontented and eager for freedom and life.
She wanted to live. She was vehemently impatient—she did not clearly know for what—to do, to be, to experience. And experience was slow in coming.”
Once considered scandalous and ”capable of poisoning the minds of those who read it”, the story was inspired by a real life character, Amber Reeves, who played an important part in H.G. Wells’ life.
The author, known mainly for creating immersive science-fiction worlds and memorable fantastic characters (The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds or The Time Machine), succeeded here in crafting a well-rounded and truthful portrait of a smart, educated and emancipated young woman, who, by deciding to take her fate into her own hands, found her place in the world, as well as love and happiness.
Does this sound like a modern fairytale to you?
If yes, then after reading the book, you will be able to judge for yourself the meaning and the implications of such words like feminism, feminist and feminine and how they relate to each other. And even if you may not find out entirely what women want, you will surely understand that being one is no easy feat.