Friday 30 May 2014

Daughters of Time - An Anthology from the History Girls. Edited by Mary Hoffman

Published by Templar  Fiction
Exceptional Women; Extraordinary Stories
From Amazon
Look through fresh eyes at the stories of some of history’s most remarkable women, in this inspiring collection of short stories by the finest female authors writing historical fiction for children today, The History Girls. Subjects include: Queen Boudicca, Aethelfled, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Julian of Norwich, Lady Jane Grey, Elizabeth Stuart, Aphra Behn, Mary Wollestonecraft, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Emily Davison, Amy Johnson and the Greenham Common women. Authors: Penny Dolan, Adele Geras, Mary Hoffman, Dianne Hofmeyr, Marie-Louise Jensen, Catherine Johnson, Katherine Langrish, Joan Lennon, Sue Purkiss, Celia Rees, Katherine Roberts, Anne Rooney and Leslie Wilson
Blurb from the back cover
Be surprised, as you look afresh at the stories of some of history’s most remarkable women, as imagined by the finest female authors of historical fiction for children.
Be enthralled, as you encounter both famous figures and lesser-known heroines from across the ages, from warrior queens to anti-nuclear activists.
But most of all … be inspired.
What a treat this anthology was. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about each and every one of these truly amazing women who have trail blazed their way through history. 
Each author shows their subject through the eyes of a young narrator who comes into contact with them by chance. Each narrator has a brief view into the lives  of these women – who range from queens to suffragettes – and they are forever changed by their encounter. 
This literary device works really well. The narrators are mostly young girls, and mostly fictional. There are some twists which bring the reader up short and made me really think about what it must have been like to be female in different historical periods. The writers have filled in some of the gaps to parts of the stories; we can never know for sure if such encounters happened, but they are feasible and believable. They are like first hand witness accounts which give us a window onto the world of  these important historical figures.
I don’t think the stories would have worked so well if they were told from the famous historical women’s viewpoint. They would be harder to believe as the authors would be trying to represent how they felt and thought and this would be very hard to pull off in a short story. Using a witness also shows that these women had an impact when they were alive, and continue to do so now. 
Michael Gove tried to remove Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum earlier this year, but thanks to an online campaign and popular feeling the Secretary of State for Education did a U-turn. This book should play an important part in keeping these women’s stories alive, including Mary Seacole’s. Girls and young women need to read these stories to know that they can do anything if they are passionate, determined and tenacious. 
I strongly recommend looking at the History Girls blog which was started by Mary Hoffman in 2011. Here the authors share their thoughts on writing, research, reviews etc.
And who are the History Girls? They are a group of bestselling, award-winning writers of historical fiction. They write for YA, adults, and for younger reads. And their books cover history from the Stone Age to WW2, and geography from Victorian England to Ancient Rome.

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