Book Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

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A review of The Power, written by Beth Jackson, FMBS Liaison Support Librarian

This powerful, provocative tale of how power corrupts will leave you questioning not only the dystopian world of Roxy, Allie, Margot and Tunde but our own society too. ‘Shockingly’ good.

How different would our world be if women were the dominant gender, wielding physical power over men? This is the central theme running through The Power, which examines how society changes after teenage girls suddenly develop the ability to discharge electricity through their hands. They soon learn they are able to awaken the power in older women too, and before long the entire female population are able to control, hurt and kill their oppressors – in this case, men.

How the global chaos unfolds is told through the stories of four central characters. Roxy, the daughter of a gangster, is caught in a criminal underworld and desperate to avenge her mother’s murder. Margot, a low-level American politician who once bestowed the power exploits it for political gain. Allie, a runaway who escapes her abusive foster father and becomes the leader of the new revolution, amassing followers who believe in the supremacy of women. Finally Tunde, a Nigerian journalist whose viral video of a teenager discharging her power on a male harasser kick-starts what becomes known as the ‘Day of the Girls’.

We see how their stories converge over the years as the power mechanics shift and belief systems change. Alderman does not present a matriarchal utopia by any means and graphically depicts the cruelty women are capable of. This can make for tough reading at times, but what’s most unsettling is that many of the displays of violence she posits are gender-flipped examples of the brutality inflicted on women in the real world. Considering the difficult and complex topics in the novel, the violence doesn’t feel gratuitous and serves a broader purpose of highlighting stereotypes about gender and illustrates how power can corrupt anyone.

It might not be the gentlest read among KU Big Read shortlist, but it is certainly packed with action, suspense and plenty of provocative scenes which will keep you ruminating long after you’ve finished the book.

Notable mention: If you are a fan of Margaret Atwood (particularly The Handmaid’s Tale) you might be interested to know she mentored Alderman back in 2012 (they co-wrote a zombie serialisation together!). Her influence can be felt in the storytelling and the dystopian themes underpinning the novel.

Join the discussion. Tell us what you thought of The Power, or what your favourite Big Read shortlisted book is. Come by the library to borrow a copy.

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Women and Leadership: Book selection and Athena Swan events.

Today is International Women’s Day, to celebrate we have put together a list of books on leadership that are available in the Library including new purchases, Clicking on the images will take you through to the Library Catalogue where you can check availability.

St George’s is committed the career advancement of women and we currently hold an institutional Athena SWAN Bronze Award.  More about Athena SWAN events for staff and students are listed below.

Book list

Rocking your role : the 'how to' guide to success for female breadwinners. Shelfmark: HD6054.3 GAR Lean in : women, work, and the will to lead. Shelfmark: HD6054.3 SAN

HD58 ARN Coaching Skills for Leaders in the Workplace by Jackie Arnold






Women at the top : what women university and college presidents say about effective leadership

Who moved my cheese?: an amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life. Shelfmark: HD58 JOH The 7 habits of highly effective people : powerful lessons in personal change

Why should anyone be led by you? : what it takes to be an authentic leader. Shelfmark. HD57 GOF





Athena SWAN networking event: Tuesday 22 March  1.15 – 2pm  in H2.6

Dr Sally Worth, Director of the Joint Research and Enterprise Office, who will talk about her career through the commercial world and into higher education. 

There is no need to book, but to help organise refreshments, please register your intention to attend by emailing or to join the Athena SWAN mailing this. This will be used to encourage staff involvement and sharing of information in relation to the Athena SWAN agenda.

Student Organised Athena SWAN events:

The St George’s Athena SWAN student network is a society that aims to empower women in their future careers. The society organises regular events, with events planned for April and June.

See their Facebook page for more information:

Twitter:  @SGwomenscareers






St George’s first four female medical students

To mark International Women’s Day the Library presented a display of archive material that documented the first admittance of women to study medicine at St George’s.

For anyone who was unable to make it on Monday to visit the display in the Library we have also produced a timeline exploring Women and Medicine and the first female medical students at St George’s. Click the image to open the timeline in Prezi.