Frankie George or the feminist who is not a suffragette. The year is 1912 and the sinking of the Titanic renders the spectacular attempts of trapeze artiste Ebony Diamond to raise the profile of the suffragette movement. A while later a young journalist one Francesca ‘Frankie’ George, desperate to escape the drudgery of the gossip columns, embarks on an attempt to find interview and even photograph the elusive Diamond, with a focus on the waist, the hourglass (or one of them) of the title. In the hunt for Ebony Frankie is pulled into a countermovement to the Suffragettes, determined to crush the order and return to the natural order of things whatever the cost.
As a character Frankie is always designed to stand out, riding a bike, wearing a waistcoat, trousers and tie, often mistaken for a man, but always talked down to as a woman, Frankie fights against being classified as a suffragette, mostly due to not truly understanding the importance of the cause.
Through the course of the book Frankie discovers far more about herself, losing arrogance, but gaining bravery, nous, true life skills and most importantly, friends. Frankie is never quite the heroine, but more the slightly confused but always strong voice of the woman who wants to stand out, in order to fit in. This book is about Ebony Diamond, but Frankie George helps us all to really discover a wonderful, violent, heroic, fictionalisation of an important and often faded period of history.
It also reminds us, pertinently for the UK at the moment that women were arrested, force fed and eventually died to get us girls the vote, so make your choice and use it. And absolutely, completely, read the wonderful debut novel ‘The Hourglass Factory’ by Lucy Ribchester, but don’t take it to work to read on your lunch break, you will get into trouble for being late.
Faramir has always been one of my favourite characters out of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy. Tolkien describes him as modest, fair-minded and scrupulously just, and very merciful. His mother died when he was five years old and his father, Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, openly favoured his older brother, Boromir, becoming more and more distant and dismissive of his youngest son. The brothers, however, had a close relationship void of jealousy or rivalry. Although they shared looks, they differed greatly in personality with Boromir defined as the more daring brother, the more fearless and greater warrior. Faramir would grow into a brave and admired warrior himself but he had no love of fighting:
“I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness… I love only that which they defend”
Instead, he loved lore and music, this along with his gentle nature (and love and friendship with Gandalf) further displeased his father.
After capturing Frodo and Sam, Faramir is presented with the same choice as his brother – whether to take the Ring from Frodo. Where Boromir ‘failed’, Faramir (as Sam put it) showed his ‘quality’ and was able to resist the Ring. As much as I love David Wenham’s portrayal in the films, and the reason for changing Faramir’s temptation, I still like the Book!Faramir refused to take it.
However, my favourite thing about Faramir – especially as a writer – is his conception. Tolkien, himself, wrote of his surprise at the appearance of Faramir towards the end of ‘The Two Towers’.
“I am sure I did not invent him. I did not even want him, though I like him.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien