BOOK REVIEW: Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide

February 25, 2020

Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide

This is a fascinating history of how post-war Britain transformed from a country hostile towards ‘queer’ lives to the LGBQTI+ universe of today. Illustrator and cartoonist Kate Charlesworth lovingly crafted book is terrific. An envisioning – from her own life and experience of our shared history, all well researched and meticulously detailed.  Her reimagining of her own school days in a northern comprehensive ‘Compy’ is laugh out loud funny and shows not only a merciless eye for satire but the warm comfort of adoring this familiar girl’s comic formula.

It’s saturated with her warmly working class lesbian view point of LGBTQ history from the end of the second world war to the present day and is stuffed full of curious facts, sumptuous memorabilia and some eye opening connections and queer influencers  which were new to me.  There’s a lush camp overtone to this book which I adored but Charlesworth also takes on the wretched struggles of the last 60 years, showing the real pain and suffering caused by the late Thatcher years equality battels. Her fury and anger behind the clause 28 battles are given a raw honesty and the awful impact of AIDS churning around her life.

She shares her family issues and secrets with charm and a brutal honesty which is as funny as it is sad, reminding us not only of her own changes and growth but also that of wider society. It’s an attractive technique to use her own development, and family’s resistance and acceptance of her life to throw society and culture into high relief. Going back and for between huge historical events (which most of us remember) and her own personal losses and triumphs brings a seriously comfortable style to her book.

Kate has been contributing to UK’s graphic novel and cartooning scene for a long time and there’s some wonderful cross pollination going on here.  Go buy it now and read it through all of LGBTQ history month. The perfect accompaniment.

Out now, for more info or to buy this tremendously fun book see the publishers website here: