Margaret the First tells the story of the real-life Margaret Cavendish, a 17th century noblewoman, feminist and science-fiction author whose opinions and eccentricities – like turning up to the London theatre topless – earned her the name ‘Mad Madge’.
She was a trailblazer in thought and deed, and deserves some modern recognition.
Danielle Dutton’s book is a fictionalised account of her life but also heavy with historical detail. As a result it’s sadly not a great read, stuck in an awkward middle ground between illuminating drama and informative biography.
The writing is fine at times, but clunky at others. Dutton has a maddening tendency to overcomplicate elements of the story that should be straightforward, making this much more difficult to follow than it should be.
It’s by no means a bad book but one cannot help but feel Mad Madge deserves better.
Next: it’s back to the future with a terrorism tale.