REVIEW: Warrior Queens and Quiet Revolutionaries

I’ve read a lot of Kate Mosse’s historical novels and I absolutely love them. They are great hulks of books and often flit between time periods, but are mainly based in Languedoc in France. I find them great page-turners.

So when Ms Mosse brought out Warrior Queens at the end of last year, I had to get my hands on a copy and decided (against all previous habits) to purchase the hardback of this factual book.

Actually I should have posted this on Wednesday, that being International Women’s Day, because this is a book by an incredible woman about a huge number of incredible women – around 1,000 in fact.

It’s a book you can dip into and out of at will with well-organised chapters grouping together women who excelled in certain fields. But running through it all is Mosse’s search for information about her great-grandmother Lily Watson who was quite the celebrated writer in her day but who has now disappeared from record.

Each chapter about these women of achievement is prefaced by a few pages about Mosse’s search for answers about her ancestor – a search which was helped by access to a huge box of letters and documents that a relative had in her possession.

Now this is the sort of book which can, if you want it to, spur you on to do your own research or read more about particular women who catch your imagination. There is a lot to learn here.

The first thing I learnt is why I don’t buy hardback books. Seriously, they are so cumbersome to read. They may look good on a bookshelf but what is the point of that if they stay on the shelf because you can’t be bothered fighting with them to read them?

That aside, this book is an amazing dip into the lives of women you may, or may not, know shaped our world today.

There are chapters on writers, doctors, lawyers, rulers, businesspeople, clergy, scientists and many more. And it is a round-the-world trip featuring the prominent or trailblazing women from civilisations that don’t even exist anymore alongside their modern counterparts.

It is absolutely fascinating and not only to the feminists among us but to anyone with an interest in history or on pioneers. It doesn’t attempt to diminish the role of trailblazing men in history, it just points out women were there too.

At the back of the book is quite a long bibliography for people who want to read more about some incredible women… or you could just pick out a couple of people who catch your interest and find out more for yourself.

Have you ever noticed that reading a good book from your TBR list simply adds more books to that list? Or is that just me? This book has added so many extra books to my list I think it will takes me decades to get through them.

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