Book Review: Subversive by Colleen Cowley
Updated: Jun 29
Romance, magic, and plenty of action – this book is unputdownable.
Peter and Beatrice know each other from childhood but their fortunes have reversed – he is now rich whereas she is relatively poor. He can do magic. She thinks she cannot. They are drawn to each other and work together despite their differences. Their romance is believable and worthy. The world building - America that discovered magic post WWI and so managed to prevent WWII - is immaculate. The pace is fast. All these reasons suffice to pick up this book and gulp it down in one reading.
The other excellent reason - the book's politics. The women in Cowley’s America supposedly cannot perform magic, hence they are deprived of many rights. They are allowed to go to college only until they hit a certain marriageable age. They have no access to birth control (nor do men, there is an illegal black market for condoms), and give away their few rights to their husbands once they marry. All of these, as you may have noticed, has nothing to do with the ability to perform magic, or any other task for that matter.
For me Subversive is brilliant because it made me think. It got under my skin for sure. As a liberated woman of the 21st century, I want to believe that I am secure in my position that I have nothing in common with the lot of Cowley’s heroines. The truth is that Patriarchy, dictating women’s rights, their limits of owning and earning is still prevalent in so many areas. In Israel of the 21st century the representation of women in the legislative body of the Knesset is so low that we take the 91st spot in women’s representation - right underneath Kazakhstan. There are two religious parties that do not even allow women to be elected. How far removed are we really from Cowley’s women?