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Books Editorial

sallypic.jpg Sally Heathcote: Suffragette

Mary M. Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot, Jonathan Cape, £16.99 Such is the documentary persuasiveness of this graphic novel that it was a blow to realise that its heroine, working-class suffragette Sally, is a fictional creation dropped convincingly into a real historic context by author Mary M. Talbot. If Sally didn’t exist, then she should have – she stands for all those strong-minded young women of the Edwardian era who battled for the vote not from a position of social privilege with leisure time to spare but while earning a living and dealing with class as well as gender-based prejudice. There’s more on offer here than just a memorable message, however, since the sheer visual joy of this beautifully produced volume lies in its images, lay-out and design. Every frame tells its tale and every note of colour (Sally’s red hair, the suffragette purple and green) makes its point. The format, with its framing devices, atmospheric effects and close-ups, offers a cinematic control of mood - the scenes of force-feeding in prison stand out as an encapsulation of brutality. An engaging, resonant human story given an utterly gripping graphic realisation.