Sunday, 9 January 2011

West End Girls by Barbara Tate

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An incredible tale that almost didn't make it to publication. Barbara Tate tells the story of her time as a prostitute's maid in Soho. This is easy reading and it's for the story itself that I rate it. Her draft was much longer, so I'm told - more the story of Soho in those years than her own and May's story which she thought wouldn't interest anyone.

On several levels it's an amazing tale - the story itself and the insight it gives into Soho at the time and when she revisited years later; how she came to be there at all; how the book came to be blocked when she first tried for publication (that story is added at the end).

She went on to have a very successful career as an artist, coming back to her manuscript in later life. It should be a tragedy she didn't live to see the book in print, and yet it isn't. The real pity is that she didn't publish earlier and have the time to write more about her life.

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  1. Now you've got me interested. Not my sort of book, normally, but I've added it to my 'to read' list. Thanks, Penny.

  2. Thanks for commenting and I hope you enjoy the book when you get to it. It wasn't something I would have picked off the shelves, but I heard a talk by the guy who advised Barbara T when she decided to get her old manuscript out again and blow the dust off. She had an incredibly life of which the time described in West End Girls was a tiny part.