Released: December 2014
Margaret Graham’s A Time for Courage covers the lives of Harry and Hannah growing up in London at the beginning of the nineteenth century. They have a wonderful albeit sickly mother but a repressive and tyrannical Victorian father who seems disappointed and dissatisfied in all of them.
He becomes even more disgruntled when Hannah decides to leave home and join the Suffragists campaigning for women’s rights and votes for everyone. Harry is also a disappointment to his father as he lacks the kind of courage and moral fibre his father believes he will need to get by in the world and run the family empire.
Intermingled with all of the political goings on are the blossoming romances between Hannah and her cousin Joe, who lives in Cornwall, and Harry and his cousin Estelle, who also happens to be Hannah’s best friend and a fellow suffragist.
Although the story is more concerned with Hannah and her struggles, it also follows Harry as he goes to South Africa in the wake of the Boer Wars to try and make his fortune in the Diamond Mines. This helps to break up the narrative a little, as the outbreak of war in 1914 makes life even more troublesome for the siblings.
There’s an awful lot going on in this novel, which helps to keep a fast pace even though it covers a wide time span. It was packed with interesting historical information about the way wealthy and poor people had to live their lives, and gives a real context to the thinking behind the social reforms of the last century.
The only problem I found was that at times it felt too didactic and the tone of some of the characters came across a little preachy, which slowed the reading down. That said, it was an interesting read and, although I didn’t expect it to be informative, I have to say it was.