Book Review: Bloody Brilliant Women


book review

This is a brilliant book. In fact, it’s a Bloody Brilliant book.

It does everything it promises on the front cover: it celebrates “the pioneers,  revolutionaries and geniuses your history teacher forgot to mention”.

Women like Beatrice Shilling, a gifted wartime engineer who found the solution to Merlin engines cutting out mid flight, giving the RAF an advantage over their German counterparts.

Women like Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement. And Gertrude Bell,  writer, traveller and archaeologist, outshone in reputation but not ability by her colleague T.E. Lawrence.

The list goes on and on: women from all professions, all walks of life, all largely forgotten.

Cathy Newman, the author, is better known as a presenter on Channel 4 News. She is also, as this book proves, an engaging and talented writer.

Forget dull and dusty history textbooks. This one is readable, fascinating and inspiring. It will make you seethe, smile and sob with frustration in equal measure.

It is a book that makes me more proud than ever of the work the “Friend” has done, and continues to do, to celebrate “forgotten” women. Read about just one of them, our much-loved Annie S. Swan, here.

“Bloody Brilliant Women” is out now in paperback, published by William Collins.

Angela Gilchrist

Angela is Editor-in-Chief of “The People’s Friend” magazine. Her passions include cats, Highland ponies, good books, vegetarian food and long walks in the Scottish countryside. Her favourite place to get away from it all is the magical Isle of Skye.