A great novel should contain wonderful writing, interesting ideas and an absorbing plot – but most of all, what we remember about it are its characters. Mr Pickwick, Falstaff, Emma, Sherlock Holmes, Isabel Archer, Jeeves – these are what make fiction shine. A new star has been added to this constellation, and her name is Mattie Simpkin.

Lissa Evans’s heroine both is and carries the “old baggage” of the novel’s title. A middle-aged suffragette, Mattie “always carried a club”, and when Old Baggage opens, in 1928, she has just thrown it, expertly, at the thief who has stolen her handbag. Give that woman a medal!

In fact, Mattie has already received several, for her actions in enduring a hunger strike…