Saturday, August 04, 2018

Brazen by Penelope Bagieu

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World / Pénélope Bagieu; translated from the French by Montana Kane
New York : First Second, 2018.
291 p.

What better book to start off a month of reading women than this compilation of biographies of notable women by Pénélope Bagieu?

I loved this quirky selection of lives, shared in an entertaining voice with snarky asides and wonderful art. The commentary by the characters while the "official" biography is being told is a great touch -- really fun to read.

The collection of women that she chooses to highlight include a few who are well known - Josephine Baker (though I didn't know until now that she'd adopted a bunch of orphans), Peggy Guggenheim, or Hedy Lamarr, for example. But she also includes some unusual choices - Margaret Hamilton, the actor best known for her role as The Wicked Witch of the West, Tove Jansson the Finnish creator of the Moomins, or Mae Jemison, astronaut extraordinaire (the only woman to have actually been in space AND guest starred on Star Trek!). There are many other unknown women here; my favourite discovery was Frenchwoman Clémentine Delait, the bearded lady -  her story of making the most of herself was charming and wonderful.

I loved the different selection of women from a French perspective - there was variety between well known and lesser known names, great diversity of kinds of lives, eras, and accomplishments, and a clear fondness for all of them on the part of the author.

There's also a list of women at the back who she couldn't fit in - this time. This gives me hope that there will be a second volume - I would snap it up.

If you can find yourself a copy, grab it and dig it. Pure joy to read this one. 


  1. This sounds very appealing to me as well. Excellent review, Melwyk!

  2. It was a fun and engaging read for sure. Well worth picking up!

  3. Yes, a second volume would be delightful, just based on what you've said here. I'm going to have a look for this one for sure!

    1. It's such fun - I hope you can find a copy. Really entertaining reading.


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