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Up The Junction: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) [Paperback]

Nell Dunn
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 April 1988 VMC (Book 464)
The girls - Rube, Lily and Sylvie - work at McCrindle's sweet factory during the week and on Saturday they go up the Junction in their clattering stilettos, think about new frocks on H.P., drink tea in the cafe, and talk about their boyfriends. In these uninhibited, spirited vignettes of young women's lives in the shabby parts of South London in the sixties, money is scarce and enjoyment to be grabbed while it can.

Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (14 April 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860689891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860689898
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 273,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Nell Dunn was born in 1936 and educated at a convent, which she left at the age of fourteen. She shot to fame with POOR COW (1967) and UP THE JUNCTION (1963), both of which became successful films. UP THE JUNCTION won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize.

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First Sentence
WE STAND, the three of us, me, Sylvie and Rube, pressed up against the saloon door, brown ales clutched in our hands. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Craobh Rua VINE VOICE
"Up The Junction" was first published in the 1960s, and is set in south London - with most of the stories following a rather well-off central character (apparently called Lily), and her two friends Sylvie and Rube. Rube and Sylvie are from Battersea, while our heroine is from Chelsea - practically an heiress, is the eyes of her two friends. The girls work in McCrindle's sweet factory, barely keep their heads above water financially, and sqeeze everything they can out of their free time - going to the pub and whatever parties they can find, chasing the men, scamming clothes on the hp and trying to avoid their debts...even avoiding ex-husbands and praying they won't get pregnant

Although our Chelsea heiress is apparently married she spends quite a bit of time with Dave - who she meets in the pub in the first story. There wasn't much in the way of romance, or happy endings for the characters in the book and, as Dave reveals more of his thoughts as the book goes on, it left me a little sad how things turned out for him. (Admittedly, both Rube and Sylvie have their difficulties and they probably contributed more to the scandal, when the book was adapted for television). Dave has a slightly grubby past - he has occasionally been known to steal the odd car or turn over the odd tobacconist - but is a largely likeable character. He now lives in Roehampton, having been moved out of his former house in a slum clearance - it's still standing, and he calls in every once in a while. Marriage is something that has to be done sooner rather than later - there was little romantic about Dave's marriage, and it's something he says he shouldn't ever have done. He sees his friends rushing into marriage, before all "the best ones" get taken.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Up the Junction is a slim novella detailing the exploits of a group of young girls working in South London during the 60s. The characters are not particularly well-defined: they tend to blur into each other and often it is impossible to tell who is doing or saying what. The first person narrator is particularly elusive and difficult to pin down and usually this would annoy me no end. However, this comes across as a deliberate choice and it seems to me that Dunn does not so much tell the story of these people but instead uses her characters to tell the story of a particular time and place in a series of interconnecting vignettes. The frequent bursts of song which appear throughout the novella help to fix this era in the mind of the reader. The characters aren't really characters at all, but are a means of producing statements and situations which reveal the harsh reality of life in 1960s South London, where times are hard and enjoyment is grasped with both hands and relished. The style reflects this, being bawdy, brash and full of life. Characters express such sentiments as `Why should we think ahead? What is there to think ahead to but growing old?' (p. 78) and `what you don't get caught for you're entitled to do` (p.85) and there is the constant feeling of wringing as much as you possibly can out of a life that is far from perfect.

There is a peculiar mix of free, modern attitudes and traditional values exhibited in this novella.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Up the Junction - Nel Dunn 11 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kitchen sink drama at its best. You can almost feel the smog on your skin as you read about factory life for the young girls of Clapham and Battersea. Timeless...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slumming it 10 Mar 2013
Middle-class Dunn slummed it in the early 60s and this, her portrayal of life in Battersea, resulted. A series of vignettes lifting the lid on poverty and the thin line between life and death in low class London, there is a real sense of 'carpe diem' through out. Alcohol is central to the concept of a good time. Sexual urges are acted upon and there is an acceptance that the male of the species is predatory. Abortions are common-place and are chosen (backstreet style) without contemplation or regret. Children are fed on cat food.

A real insight into lives that are lived with little chance of escape or improvement, told through the the dialogue of the local characters. Some times moving, often funny, almost always shocking, I found this slender book difficult to follow at times. The second half of the book is much stronger than the first.

Inevitably its publication caused an uproar in the 60s. Sadly much of the furore revolved around the loose sexual mores recorded in its pages and this rather overshadowed the more pressing truths of poverty and the changes in social housing forced upon such communities (so well documented forty years later in the excellent The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working Class).
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