Book Reviews

Things a Bright Girl Can Do: Book Review

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Book Title: Things A Bright Girl Can Do
Author: Sally Nicholls
Genre: Historical Fiction
Target Audience: YA

“I’d like,” said Evelyn fircely, “to live in a world where women can do everything men can”


Since reading the synopsis of this book it has appealed to me. I think it’s because it was drummed into me from an early age with my grandmother saying “never pass up the chance to vote. The woman fought and some died so you can have this opportunity and your say”  Due to this I’ve only ever missed one vote and that’s because I went on holiday three days after I booked it.

Things a Bright Girl Can Do Through rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.

Evelyn is seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Enraged that she is expected to marry her childhood sweetheart rather than be educated, she joins the Suffragettes and vows to pay the ultimate price for women’s freedom.

May is fifteen and already sworn to the cause, though she and her fellow Suffragists refuse violence. When she meets Nell, a girl who’s grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women have their place.

But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they ever could believe. As war looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice? –


For a change, I thought I’d give the star rating before my opinion as I think this needs explaining.

So I did like the book. Evelyn, May and Nell were all very likeable characters and all definitely showed their different personalities and weren’t afraid to stick up for themselves or their situation.

Evelyn is the eldest girl who wants to go to Oxford University along with her older brother. She ends up becoming a suffragette because her parents think that she would be better suited to being a housewife. Along with her childhood friend Teddy she goes to rally’s and tries to get in trouble with her parents.

May is someone I don’t think I’d get on with. She knows what she knows and if she doesn’t agree she’ll go off on a wonderful tale which then makes the other person feel defeated because there is just no arguing with her. She’s pro suffragette and anti-war and if everyone just talked instead of fighting then there wouldn’t be men at war. This is all well and good but it’s easier said than done and is the thoughts of a young girl who has been kept in the dark most of her life.

Nell is more my type. She’s independent, she knows what she wants and she’s been brought up in a two roomed house with her parents and five siblings. It can’t be easy especially since her mother can only work at certain times and gets paid by the item. Her father has been drafted into the army and her brother lies on the enlistments form and joins the army ages 17.

I loved that it spanned over a few years and how we watched these girls grow into young women and the trials and tribulations of the war and getting women the vote. We see things from death and starvation as well as an LGBT relationship and PTSD. There are some historical inaccuracies which she does explain and I can forgive her for these as the story is still good with these but my reason for the 3.5 stars is purely I expected more from it.

I wanted more about the jobs that the women had to do while the men were away, I wanted more on how people reacted to the girls especially with May being fairly open about her attraction to women. I also thought that Evelyn’s story was a bit on its own as she only met May because she handed her a pamphlet and that was basically their whole interaction. I just wish I had more of all three of them coming together from the different backgrounds and standing together for the sake of all women.

What did you think of this story? Do you think it hit all the right notes? Let me know in the comments. 

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