Book Review: Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn
Genre: Historical Romance
Constance is a suffragette with ambitions to become a surgeon and a deep aversion to following her sister’s footsteps into domesticity. Will is the rising star of county cricket, whose values are far more ‘traditional’. When the two fall in love, each finds their views of the world irrevocably shaken at their foundations.
With a war on the horizon and British society clinging to ideals that are about to be torn apart, will their affection be able to overcome the gulf of circumstance that separates them?
When I read the synopsis of this book, I thought it had the potential to be predictable. I had visions of Connie and Will casting away all of their previous values without a backward glance and swooning into each other’s arms. However, I could not have been more wrong; the change that takes place in the characters is gradual and realistic.
The romance at the heart of the novel has a great deal of depth. It acts as a snapshot that perfectly captures the tensions within a society suspended between past and present.
The relationship between Connie and Will is unpredictable with a number of twists and turns that kept me in suspense. My internal monologue was running something along the lines of Okay, they are definitely going to get together now…or maybe not…definitely now…Oh, hold on…
As much as I loved the authentic romance at the story’s centre, I enjoyed the side plots just as much, such as the buried emotional difficulties of Will’s cricket mentor Tam.
The plot had a variety that kept me intrigued, with its contrasting settings and time periods, plus a tendency to switch from amusing to agonising within moments. I felt as if I had experienced the entire emotional spectrum by the final pages!
Connie was, of course, my favourite character in the book. She is the classic ‘strong female lead’ but without having an impenetrable persona as can sometimes be the case with this trope. Her anxieties and vulnerabilities mean that she never fails to be relatable as well as admirable.
In fact, a similar ambiguity and complexity surround every character so I became entirely engaged with their stories.
Favourite quote: ‘It didn’t matter how close you were to someone, people would always be a mystery to one another.’
Read if: You are looking for a historical romance with absorbing depth.
Made me think: I was intrigued by the way this book explored the controversies surrounding the suffragette movement. It made me consider how I would have reacted to the prejudices of the period.
Would I have joined militant groups with the associated risks of prison? Would I have preferred peaceful campaigning? Or (frightening thought), without the awareness brought to me today by these early women’s rights campaigners, would I have just stayed at home, kept out of the way, and did what I was told?
Written by Florence Edwards.