“Unquiet Women” by Max Adams


Thanks to Head of Zeus and Netgalley for the advanced reading copy.

I was SO excited to read this book when I initially read the blurb for it, but unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The concept itself is compelling: forgotten voices from women throughout History, but it doesn’t quite meet its aim. I had hoped for something similar to the women’s stories featured on the badassoftheweek.com series.

The author is clearly very knowledgeable and I enjoyed the parts where he talked about his professional experiences and was able to flesh out some of the details. The book itself would work really well as a book to dip in and out of, perhaps reading a few of the accounts at a time. They are short enough for this to be possible. It doesn’t flow very well for longer periods of reading in my opinion as the women tended to blur together in my mind.

As an ex Social Studies teacher, I understand completely how difficult it can be to uncover meaningful evidence of women’s lives during certain periods of History. This book tries to bring life to some of these women, but the information given is often just too vague or tenuous to really get your teeth into. Just as things start to get interesting, it’s time to move onto the next woman. It might have made more sense to provide longer accounts of the more well-known women or those who have more information and evidence available than lots of short little ditties about random Anglo-Saxon noblewomen and weaving (so much weaving….).

Parts of the book reminded me of those moments in a job interview when the interviewer asks you a question and you just try to ramble a bit and hope it sticks. The featured women are largely from Western and Northern Europe which is unfortunate as the few pieces there are about the non-Western women are some of the more interesting in the book.

Overall, I did enjoy parts of this book but it didn’t grab my interest the way I had hoped it would.

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