Book Review: Out of the Shadows – The life of Millicent Baxter, by Penny Griffith

Available in selected bookshops nationwide.

cv_out_of_the_shadowsThis excellent book packs a real punch in introducing readers to the life of this very formidable woman.

Born in 1888 into a family of some means, Millicent’s was not to be the traditional path that young women of her class were expected to follow. Opinionated and well-educated, Millicent was determined to make her own choices based on what she believed, not what Society thought.

Hers was a full life and not always easy, her husband Archie was a conscientious objector during WW1 which along with Millicent’s pacifist beliefs, did not make them popular. Millicent’s father disapproved of the marriage to Baxter: put simply, he wasn’t good enough. The marriage produced two sons Terence and James, and the family unit was a hardworking but strong one.

It was the second World War that placed the greatest strain on Millicent, as her son Terence was punished for his pacifism.

James, the younger son, became a poet and a leader of men, establishing a well known commune and reaching out to others as his mother did throughout her life. Millicent never really stopped, her always inquiring mind meant that she was always learning and growing and there were always friends and family that needed her helping hands. For a woman of her time, she was also well-travelled.

This is a book that succeeds wonderfully in giving the reader a complete picture of its subject, the research is impeccable and the illustrations complement the narrative. It is easy to read and its subject is a most engaging lady who had a life full of adventure, challenges, hardship and blessings, a lady who lived life as if every minute counted. Millicent was never boring or dull, she was always kind, caring and compassionate, accepting of others and non judgemental, a supportive wife and mother and a great friend to those who knew her.

Penny Griffith has done a great job in bringing Millicent Baxter, perhaps the least known member of her family, to life and has ensured that her story can be heard. Every Secondary School in New Zealand needs a copy of this book available for students to read.

Reviewed by Marion Dreadon

Out of the Shadows – The Life of Millicent Baxter
by Penny Griffith
Published by PenPublishing
ISBN 9780473335106

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