I’ve not found first person point of view, present tense, a good way to tell a story set in the past. I’ve always preferred it for literary or mainstream present-day stories, yet Sarah Grazebrook chose to use first POV present tense for Crooked Pieces and makes it work so well.
This is a story about Maggie, starting with the young East End girl in 1905 and finishing, in 1918, with a very different Maggie, a young woman we’ve grown to like and sympathise with. Maggie is reluctant to leave her East End home but her mother is determined that her bright daughter should have a chance to escape the grinding poverty. With help from their local vicar, Maggie is found a place as maid of all work in the home of Mr and Mrs Roe. They are good people and a guest of theirs is Sylvia Pankhurst, who stays with them more as a family member than friend. Maggie slowly learns to accept that this new world does have a lot to offer her and becomes fascinated by the Pankhursts and rights for women. As the suffragettes grow more militant, Maggie finds herself torn first between her policeman boyfriend and what Christabel Pankhurst wants her to do because she is the leading example to all other working women, and then between what her good sense tells her, and what she is being pressured into doing.
The story is a lively and convincing read, with historical details well researched. For readers interested in the suffragettes, and who like to see a working-class heroine set in a realistic milieu, this book is highly recommended. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will look for Sarah Grazebrook’s next novel.