THE ACCIDENTAL SUFFRAGIST
By: Galia Gichon
Published: June 1, 2021
Publisher: Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing
I remember learning about the women’s suffrage movement in high school social studies and again in college as a social work major. I became passionate about it in high school and even worked the election as an 18-year-old to learn more about the voting process. I am now an election official and have worked the elections in our community for 13 years. I take the right to vote very seriously and am always encouraging others, especially young people and women to make sure to vote. Many women worked hard to achieve this right and Gichon’s novel shares this fictional story with a bit of actual history mixed in to remind us of all of the efforts towards earning women the right to vote.
Helen Fox heads off to work in the factory early every morning as does her husband. It’s 1912, and they are barely making enough money to keep food on the table. When tragedy strikes their family after the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, Helen has a chance encounter with a suffragist that changes her life and her family’s life forever.
Helen eventually joins the suffrage movement and along with Helen, the reader becomes exposed to the struggles and triumphs of the women marching in cities across the East Coast to raise awareness of the women’s right to vote. I was surprised by how poorly the women were treated, especially by other women. It was hard to imagine this type of prejudice and harassment against women, but it was such a bold statement for women to make at this time in our history.
I found the story a bit simplistic but also enjoyed that it wasn’t bogged down with details and allowed for a faster-paced storyline. Helen’s character is struggling with repairing her marriage, trying to move past extreme grief, and exploring a world of unknown promises. Helen is able to provide more for their family due to her job with the suffragists which also causes difficulty in their community and in her marriage. I appreciated how Helen’s character became more and more willing to stand up for the cause, but most importantly, how she learned to stand up for herself.
The story begins in 1912, but the original suffragist movement began with Susan B Anthony in 1878. The Nineteenth Amendment wasn’t passed until 1919 by the senate. Finally, in 1920, Tennessee became the last state to give American Women full voting rights. This timely novel will remind all women to stand up for what they believe in and not to squander or waste our right to vote.
Galia Gichon spent nearly ten years writing financial research for top investment banks before launching Down-to-Earth Finance, a top personal financial advising firm in New York.
Galia is the author of My Money Matters, a personal finance book that received notable press from the New York Times, TODAY Show, CNN, Newsweek, Real Simple, and more. Galia Gichon consistently leads seminars for Barnard College where she has taught for 13 years and other organizations. She is an avid angel investor focusing on women-led and impact startups and actively counsels startups through accelerators.