Rating: 3 stars
In Fighting on the Home Front, Kate Adie brings an interesting personal touch to the forgotten stories of women who struggled against a patriarchal society for the right to be taken seriously. Adie marries the story of the fight for electoral representation with that of the women who took men’s places in the workplace during the war firmly on men’s terms.
This isn’t a story often told in the more typically eulogising accounts of plucky little women filling the gap left by men who were fighting on the front. This is a story of women used cheaply as a stop gap and not recognised for the effort and the sacrifice they made to support the armed forces and the nation. There are some remarkable stories of bravery and bloody mindedness in the face of patronising male dismissal of women’s abilities. There are also parallels drawn by Adie between the chauvinism of Edwardian Britain in a theatre of war and the chauvinism shown to her 80 years later as a war correspondent. There is some repetition of themes across the piece, and not everything in the book is entirely engaging, but on the whole this is a good popular history of a little-celebrated aspect of World War One.