I enjoyed this book as it is an easy read and Sylvia Mason painted a graphic picture of the times – Mary Frost’s shop and home, the 1839 Chartist uprising in Newport, the family, the rallies and the spies. “Were any of the injured men bandaged and fed by the Frost women and helped to get home”? Initially I was a little irritated by the questions Sylvia Mason posed as there was no ‘real’ evidence, however, I soon appreciated it as a way of telling Mary’s story which set the scene of the times as, in reality, there is so little ‘evidence’ or information about the women who were married to the chartists!
Sylvia’s methods leads us to make connections to the times and the women by using inferences from contemporary literature as well as helping us use our imagination. I liked the style as it was different. She paints an excellent picture of the living conditions and the real struggles for women of that time and how amazingly resilient they were given they had few rights, no vote, constant babies and no state help when their men were deported or jailed. I have even more respect for how these women survived it all given the power and might of others over their lives.
Sylvia does all the characters justice. I particularly enjoyed the chapter about Mary’s life in Bristol alongside some pictures so I can go and explore and find the blue plaques and graves!