It’s a pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for The Word for Freedom, the short story collection published by Retreat West on 1st November, available in paperback and for kindle. These 24 short stories celebrate women’s suffrage, and the collection was produced to raise money for Hestia, who support adults and children in crisis across London, and campaign and advocate nationally on the issues that affect them.
A collection of 24 short stories celebrating a hundred years of women’ suffrage, from both established and emerging authors, all of whom have been inspired by the suffragettes and whose stories, whether set in 1918, the current day or the future, focus on the same freedoms that those women fought for so courageously.
A clerk of works at the Palace of Westminster encounters Emily Davison in a broom cupboard; a mermaid dares to tread on land to please the man she loves; a school girl friendship makes the suffragette protests relevant to the modern day; a mother leaves her child for a tree; an online troll has to face his target; and a woman caught in modern day slavery discovers a chance for freedom in a newspaper cutting.
These stories and many more come together in a collection that doesn’t shy away from the reality of a woman’s world, which has injustices and inequalities alongside opportunities and hard-won freedoms, but always finds strength, bravery and hope.
When I signed up to support this release, I’d rather expected to come across authors I’d find unfamiliar – and it’s always a pleasure to discover new talent, and to be able to spread the word. But this anthology is a wonderful mix of less familiar authors, and others whose names I already know very well indeed – and it was a particular pleasure to be able to experience their work in the short story form. Authors that have donated stories include:
Sophie Duffy, author of The Generation Game;
Angela Readman, Costa Short Story Award winner;
Anna Mazzola, author of The Story Keeper and winner of the Edgar Allen Poe award;
Isabel Costello, author of Paris, Mon Amour and host of The Literary Sofa blog;
Angela Clarke, best-selling author of the Social Media Murders series;
Karen Hamilton, author of The Perfect Girlfriend;
Helen Irene Young, author of The May Queen;
Victoria Richards, journalist and award-winning short story writer; and
Cath Bore, feminist short story writer and broadcaster.
I’ll be honest – I did rather expect this collection to be a bit earnest, lots of nodding required at its messages, perhaps some outrage needed about the issues it might expose. So it was the loveliest of surprises to find its content an absolute delight, a quite wonderful collection of short stories around a broad central theme that – without exception – I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
I’ve read the whole collection, but must apologise that the personal issues I’m currently wrestling with have prevented me from producing the detailed review I really wanted to write. But I can highlight my personal favourites. Isabel Costello’s The Word for Freedom is a perfect opener, with its vivid and atmospheric setting, examination of grief and loss and its unexpected bringing together of two unlikely allies for its triumphant and very touching ending. Counting for England by Christine Powell – the one that finds Emily Davison in a broom cupboard – is short, simple and perfect. And the shorter stories are perhaps the ones I enjoyed the most – another I liked very much, and that left me smiling broadly, was Enid Is Going On A Journey by David Cook.
But you don’t need my list – you’ll find your own favourites. The whole collection is perfectly assembled, the chosen stories a joy to explore.
About Retreat West
Retreat West Books is an independent press publishing paperback books and ebooks.
Founder, Amanda Saint, is a novelist and short story writer. She’s also a features journalist writing about environmental sustainability and climate change. So all Retreat West Books publications take advantage of digital technology advances and are print-on-demand, in order to make best use of the world’s finite resources.
Retreat West Books is an arm of Amanda’s creative writing business, Retreat West, through which she runs fiction writing retreats, courses and competitions and provides editorial services.
Initially started to publish the anthologies of winning stories in the Retreat West competitions, Retreat West Books is now open for submissions for short story collections, novels and memoirs. Submission info can be found here.