It’s 1912, and Helen Fox is a factory worker living in New York’s tenements. When tragedy strikes in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, Helen is seduced by the Suffragist cause and is soon immersed, working alongside famous activist
As Helen’s involvement with the cause deepens, she encounters myriad sources of tension that test her perseverance: estrangement from her husband, who is blindsided by his wife’s sudden activism; ostracization by neighbors; unease at working side by side with wealthier suffragettes; and worry about her children as she leaves them to picket the White House in Washington.
The narrative spans World War One and concludes with the triumph of 1919. In a time when the obstacles for women, from any background, were insurmountable, Helen discovers her voice as an independent woman and dreams of equality in a male-dominated society.
This is gritty historical fiction set in a time when women had few rights, and their fight for the right to vote would get dirty and even bloody. The protagonist, Helen, is a poor housewife in New York City who also has to work and eke out a meager existence for her family. She has just lost her daughter in a factory fire and her whole family is hurting. She stumbles into a job with the Suffragettes, who are fighting for the right to vote for women. Her husband’s actions puzzle me throughout the book. He is a piece of work who is supposed to love her deeply, but 21st Century women will probably not see any evidence of that. He stands as a symbol for what the average man thought and did at that time. Helen’s actions show tremendous growth throughout this book, but not as much growth as I would have wished. That being said, I think that this is a very real depiction of what life would have been like for women of that time period, and although I would have liked Helen to stand up to her husband more, that is probably not realistic. Women of that time period were treated like property, and it did not change overnight.
The description of the protest in Washington DC and what happened afterward is as realistic as it is horrifying. The Accidental Suffragist is the very definition of real historical fiction. This is no fairy tale. This book is about the suffering and subjugation of women in American in and prior to the early 20th Century, and the blowback, indignation, and violence that resulted from their fight to rise above it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
About the Author:
Widely quoted in The New York Times and more, Galia Gichon spent nearly ten years writing financial research for top investment banks before launching Down-to-Earth Finance, a top personal financial advising firm in New York.
Galia is the author of My Money Matters, a personal finance book which received notable press from the New York Times, TODAY Show, CNN, Newsweek, Real Simple and more. Galia Gichon consistently leads seminars for Barnard College where she has taught for 13 years, and other organizations. She is an avid angel investor focusing on women-led and impact startups and actively counsels startups through accelerators.