I have just finished this wonderful book. It’s not normally the kind of book I would reach for on the shelf, but after this, I will be looking for similar topics as well as other titles by Dunlop herself.
In this historic year for women, it seems apt for this book to be published in 2018. It charts the personal history of six extraordinary women, all of whom were born a hundred or more years ago. It is a testament to their strength of character, their personal struggles and successes that make this book so enchanting. The way that the book is written ensures that the reader knows each of these women intimately, and I think that it is the strength of the author that this is achieved. Details, even down to Olive’s way of speaking, merely add to the wonderful story-telling that comes through the pages and the lives of these women. It really is a treasure to behold.
The main reason for picking up this book and devouring it so feverishly is because, through my own work, Ann Baer contacted me in a letter. She, for me, is the undisputed star of the book. As Dunlop writes:
Thank-you for Ann. She is epic.
Indeed she is, and just as epic as the other women featured in the book. I went to meet Mrs Baer the day after this book was launched, and I sat in her living room in her Richmond home, talking about various topics including the book and art printing. I have never felt so humble to meet such an extraordinary woman.
It was touching to read about the sad times in their lives, the heartbreak and the mourning. They, possibly more than most, have lost much in their lives. However, their spirit continues and they carry on. They ‘get on with it’.
I want to thank Tessa Dunlop for this wonderful book, celebrating the lives of these six women, for having the courage to write it, even though at times it was emotional. Britain needs more of these personal histories to remind us where we have come from.
The Century Girls by Tessa Dunlop is published by Simon & Schuster and is available in all good independent bookshops.