"Edeana Malcolm's Tea at the Empress is a delight. The character of Edith positively sparkles on the page--a young woman living a life of excitement at a time when women were only beginning to access hard-won human rights. It is this exploration that makes the book so timely and necessary today as those rights are threatened anew in North America. While Edith's story provides plenty of humour, nostalgia, and entertainment, it also serves as an important call to action for this and future generations. A necessary book for a complex world."
Carleigh Baker, Canadian writer of Cree-Metis and Icelandic descent and author of Bad Endings, a short story collection that won the Vancouver Book Award
I so appreciate Carleigh's assessment of my novel Tea at the Empress because she has gotten to the heart of what I wanted to say in this book.
I wanted to reach back and acknowledge the work of our fore-mothers in bringing us closer to equality, but I also wanted to show that this work is never done. One giant leap forward in women's rights is often followed by push-back, and so we hobble forward, our feet still bound together by long tradition and deeply embedded attitudes.
As I was writing, I thought of the many countries where women are still denied rights today. But I had no idea at the time that the United States would be pushed so far backward in the ongoing struggle. The reversal of Roe vs Wad has dealt a tremendous blow to women's reproductive rights in that country. They have retreated all the way back to the conditions in my novel, set 100 years ago, when women like my character Edith had no choice but to give birth and either keep a child they could ill afford or give away the child to someone else. I hope that my novel provides some insight into how such a situation is life-altering to the women thus deprived of the right to make their own choices.
As I wrote this novel. I wanted to make it clear that the struggle for women's rights is not finished. Each generation is called upon to continue the effort. I thought of my own grandchildren, born of a generation that is more gender-fluid than mine, I hope that they will recognize that women's rights are indistinguishable from human rights and that each of them in their own way will work towards a more equitable future for all.
Please come to the launch of my book, Tea at the Empress, at 6:30 pm on Sept. 14 at the Gorge Paviion in Esquimalt Gorge Park.