Friday, May 1, 2009

Women in Black by Madeleine St. John

Written by a superb novelist of contemporary manners, The Women in Black is a fairytale which illuminates the extraordinariness of ordinary lives. The women in black are run off their feet, what with the Christmas rush and the summer sales that follow. But it’s Sydney in the 1950s, and there’s still just enough time left on a hot and frantic day to dream and scheme…
By the time the last marked-down frock has been sold, most of the staff of the Ladies’ Cocktail section at F. G. Goode’s have been launched into slightly different careers. With the lightest touch and the most tender of comic instincts, Madeleine St John conjures a vanished summer of innocence. The Women in Black is a great novel, a lost Australian classic.
I must admit I read this because the author sounded intriguing and I am inordinately fond of wearing black myself. What a little treat! It was deceptively simple but all of the characters were extremely well drawn and so utterly Australian I actually felt a bit nostalgic. Very satisfying.
Rating - I give this 4/5
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Sarah@ Hamilton library


Maree said...

I love this book too, I think it was serialized on Radio National years ago. A very satisfying read and hugely evocative.
I was reminded of going to David Jones or Myer in the city, getting dressed up and making a day of it with my Grandmother, those ladies behind the counter (especially in the ladies wear) seemed so glamourous
and worldly (I think I went through the stage of wanting to work at the makeup counter, wanted to nun too - briefly whole other story).

Patrice said...

Thank you Sarah and Maree. I had never heard of this book and now I really want to read it and will put it on hold straight away. It will be a refreshing change from the grisly crime novels I mostly read

Jan said...

I have just finished reading this book - what a gem it is! Must look for more by this author.