Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nichols (2017)
Genre: Young Adult / Historical Fiction / LGBTQ
An in-depth look at the issues that drove the suffragette and suffragists movements in the UK, and the lives of women of the time, in particular how women were affected by the First World War. In the podcast we will discuss the significance of the suffragette movement for global women’s emancipation, and also talk about the different factions and their beliefs and methods. In Things A Bright Girl Can Do we meet three young women who played their own small parts in helping the women’s suffrage movement. Even though individually they played very minor roles in bringing about the right of a woman to vote, they were a part of a movement that ultimately achieved a goal that changed the world. Sally Nicholls mentions in the epilogue of the book that her book’s title is inspired by a 1914 book entitled 301 Things a Bright Girl Can Do, which teaches girls fascinating craft and handiwork such as building stage carpentry, making a photocopier, and cremating themselves alive as a Christmas ornament. In this final discussion we invite our listeners to think of small ways that they can work to help continue the goal of equality for all.
Further discussion: In this episode we will also discuss the way that history helps to shape the world that each generation of girls live in, and how each subsequent generation sees changes in how girls are treated in the world.
Content Warnings (for the book): Mention of prison brutality (force feeding) and violence towards Suffragettes (rubbish thrown at them, violence at riots, etc) and one woman’s experience of prison and going on hunger and thirst strike. The word suicide occurs three times. Instances of homophobic and xenophobic language. One character struggles with gender identity. Short descriptions of kissing and undressing between two girls.