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Thursday, September 6, 2012

THE VISION OF LOVELINESS by LOUISE LEVENE



I read about this author for another book Ghastly Business at Cornflower Books and since that one was not available I thought I'd pick this one up and try a new author for me.

Set in the 1950's in a drab suburb of Norbury where being "respectable" counts above all, we have Jane James living with her younger sister June, in the home of her aunt and uncle who took the two children in when their parents died. Jane wants to break away and at 19 is looking for an opportunity to do so. She reads up on how she should behave with men, to seduce and entice them, how to dress, how to do proper make up and generally wants to upgrade herself in a manner which will take her out of Norbury into the much looked up West End part of London.

An opportunity comes her way and she grabs it with both hands, leaving Norbury behind and joining forces with Suzy St. John (nothing real about the name) and in her finds a like minded spirit who is determined to move on and up and speedily.  Anything more would be spoilers!

This book deals with the feelings of the time - that for young women there was nothing else to do but make themselves as attractive and appealing to the men - married or single - and obtain as much favors as one could - from marriage, to jewellery, to a flat to anything as mundane as furs and handbags as well so that earning one's bread and butter is not a chore but just a sideline  to the main event.

It is bitingly funny,  described as a social satire and at the same time looking at it from 2012 I found it sad that such talented young women had to behave like this to improve their lot.  I just thank my lucky stars that I was not born in such a sexist, small minded society!  This was a excellent read and I must try to find Ghastly Business before I leave Melbourne.

I am going to be away from the Internet as we are moving house and the provider has just informed us that it takes two weeks to give us our new connections. I didn't think it was as bureaucratic as all that in modern Melbourne so unless the library has time for me to get a slot no internet till I get back to Sri Lanka.

Weather here in Melbourne was chilly when I arrived, then turned balmy, two days ago cyclonic winds and now just gloomy. Ten days more only in Melbourne and then back home. 

4 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Yeah, I wonder how I would have made it in the 1950's - I guess if you're raised in it, you think differently. This book sounds good.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Glad you liked the book!
I hope you get internet service sooner than they're telling you - and I hope the weather calms :)

MarthaE said...

I agree it would have been difficult to live in that time considering how independent we are.
I hope you are enjoying your time in Melbourne.
The Alaska cruise was wonderful!

Kristen said...

I'm glad I wasn't born in the 1950's also. But how intriguing the book sounds!