Customer Reviews


21 Reviews
5 star:
 (11)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pack it in your holiday bag now
This is a very, very funny book. I laughed out loud reading it on the tube. To the point where, on one occasion, all eyes turned on me because I snorted in merriment. It's funny because it nails so precisely the louche wannabes of the time, not so different from the sad wannabes of today, except in the length of their hem and the brand of their cigarette. It is rare to...
Published on 18 July 2010 by Fashion Fiend

versus
12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A vision of unlovely editing
This story of Suzy and Janey, pretty nineteen year-old 'models' on the make in the London of the 60's, is hardly original. 'A Vision of Loveliness' though, has plenty (probably too much) period detail and analysis of clothes and attitudes to convince you Louise Levene knows her stuff (though can you have 'lacy yellow nylon knickers'?) It kicks along as the girls grab...
Published on 1 Aug 2010 by annwiddecombe


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pack it in your holiday bag now, 18 July 2010
This review is from: A Vision of Loveliness (Paperback)
This is a very, very funny book. I laughed out loud reading it on the tube. To the point where, on one occasion, all eyes turned on me because I snorted in merriment. It's funny because it nails so precisely the louche wannabes of the time, not so different from the sad wannabes of today, except in the length of their hem and the brand of their cigarette. It is rare to encounter a writer with such an acute ear for dialogue and such a sharp eye for detail. Rarely has there been snobbery so brilliantly portrayed. The only drawback of this book is that Ms Levene's writing is so engaging, you'll have finished it way too quickly.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the inside story of looking lovely, 19 Jun 2010
By 
B. M. Joughin "reader" (Newcastle) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Vision of Loveliness (Paperback)
Does anyone in 2010 have a 22 inch waist? Today's size zero models have nothing on these poor girls who are taken to the most expensive West End restaurants to sit uncomfortably in their 'waspies' and vomit between each course, ferociously brushing their teeth and reapplying just the right amount of make up to stay on the right side of the fine line between sophisticate and tart.
The novel is set in 1963, 'bobs' are just making their appearance but Twiggy's boyfriend look has yet to hit the scene. Janey's E cup figure is 'sample size' and this, coupled with the long hours of practice of her Paris Turns and being mistakenly handed a crocodile handbag, land her living her dream life of a model; a dream she has held on to through a life imprisoned in suburban hell with her aunt and frumpish sister (whom she disowned as an orphaned child, choosing instead the pretty blond as her sister, a trick unfortunately noticed and righted when they were rehoused with bitter Aunt Doreen)
The period detail cannot be faulted. It is a lesson in history as much as an absorbing story of the two 'it' girls and their rather sad existences spent working very hard at not working to pay the rent.
It is a book one is drawn into very quickly. The first chapters are light and breezy, funny and clever, and then the darker side of this life creeps in. The change in Jane as she evolves into Janey and depressingly quickly learns how to get what she wants (or thinks she should want) from the richest - though rarely the best looking - men. We see the stark choice for women in the early 60s between stay at home wife, wallowing in candlewick, or reviled tart, existing on Camp coffee, gin and ill gotten gowns.
A Vision of Loveliness is a wonderful picture of life at a turning point in women's history and as the book ends we are left looking forward to the the arrival of The Beatles, the mini, and the liberation of women and their waist lines!
Buy it. Read it. Love it. Live it - and breath easy in your Tencel!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific first novel by an excellent writer, 25 May 2011
By 
Hywel James "Hywel James" (Devon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Vision of Loveliness (Paperback)
Louise Levene's first novel, "A Vision of Loveliness", is wonderful. The story of Suzy and Janey, two very naughty girls, living at other people's expense in early 1960's Mayfair, is thoroughly convincing, supported by a wealth of authentic period details, particularly those concerning women's fashion but also the social mores of the time. The latter are particularly telling because much of the delight of the novel arises from the desperate desire of the two girls to establish themselves in the kind of society where, they hope, their good looks will secure them a luxury lifestyle.

The satire is highly effective and, notwithstanding the thoroughly disreputable behaviour of Suzy and Janey, I fell in love with them both. I realised quite early on that I am (or was in 1963) the same age as the two main characters which may explain why I enjoyed their adventures so much. But I think the book will appeal to anyone of whatever age who enjoys good writing: vivid dialogue, razor sharp observation and comic drama.

A terrific first novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it!, 8 Jun 2010
This review is from: A Vision of Loveliness (Paperback)
I caught a bit of this being read on Radio 4, and the characters were so inviting that I had to get a copy of the book and find out what happened to them. Jane, or 'Janey', as she restyles herself in the story, is desperate to escape suburbia and lead a more exciting life amongst the bright lights of the city. She falls in with Suzy St John, a girl who uses all her feminine wiles to support her exotic lifestyle, and leaps headlong into a similar existence of drinking, dancing, and occasional seduction. However, in this world of seedy glamour in 1960s London, Janey is sharp and witty (and, rather delightfully, a bit of a bitch). You find yourself liking her all the more for never getting too caught up in the trappings of her new life, but also for playing the game as well as well next girl. When the speed at which they are living finally catches up with them, you root for Janey to come out unscathed. I won't spoil the ending for you, but I would love to know where she goes next... It was a brilliant book, and I can't wait to read another book by Louise Levene.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Portrait etched in Acid, 6 Jun 2010
This review is from: A Vision of Loveliness (Paperback)
A knowledgeable and unsparing eye are coupled here with an almost over-abundant wealth of social detail to produce satire of the most biting kind. Ugly babies, lumpen sisters, shrewish aunties, over-the-hill Surrey debutantes ("two shrunken-looking women of thirty-odd... greasy old gowns in tired duchesse satin... great fat folds of back bulging out... nasty poultrified bits of razored armpit...") no one escapes Levene's pitiless gaze. Least of all her comely heroine Jane, who puts together a fabulous wardrobe at everyone else's expense (and when it comes to fashion detail, trust me, Levene is your girl), but loses her heart and soul in the process. This is a story of the 50s, but centred as it is around the notion of personal reinvention and the falsity of surface appearence, absolutely of the present moment too. A stunningly self-possessed literary debut.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, 6 Jan 2012
By 
A. stephenson (england) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Vision of Loveliness (Paperback)
This book I picked up and put down so many times, and it was only when really bored at work I decided to give it a go as it was all I grabbed that morning.
I can honestly say it's a beautifully written book, although sometimes the point of view is confusing, overall I loved it. I'm the kind of person that if I love a book will read it that day, and it took me two days to finish it.
I wont spoil it, but the descriptions of surroundings and of course clothing really made me feel I could see it and apart of Jane James life. The ending was very disappointing for me and I had to re-read it a few times but its left open to interpretation.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Title is ironic with a vengeance, 1 Jun 2010
This review is from: A Vision of Loveliness (Paperback)
Very funny book, a highly ironic story of certain 1950s women & the way looking good for men rules their lives. Slightly magical-fable plot about two 19 year-olds who look incredibly alike, one is a 'model' & the other, who is a clothes shop assistant, learns from her what that word means, but in fact always remains a bleached-out economy-class copy of her. There are constant outtakes from ladies' etiquette books (real I presume) that remind you what slaves to their looks women were told to be to land a husband, while the girls' actions are undisguisedly directed at trading to the limit on their beauty. The writer (who is a newspper critic so it's not surprising) has an acid literary tongue, pitiless in some of her descriptions of women the wrong side of 25 --at times it's almost like a bitter Fifties version of early Sex & the City. The sheer wealth of detail about clothing, corsets, shoes, handbags, personal beautifying, London fashion buying, the exact way for a girl to cross her legs, the exact way to flutter eyelashes, the shameless use of makeup to trap men by the obvious, the snob's guide to getting the right address is pretty fascinating & rampantly comic. You also get the sweaty dress samples, smelly feet, filthy flats, slithery men, the scrounging underside of being young & beautiful, but it is satirical observation rather than tragic empathy. I can understand the Sixties designer Mary Quant's appreciative comment on the cover because anyone interested in the social language of female clothes & plumage will enjoy a masterclass. (Also the cover is really a vision of loveliness--a model making herself up in a mirror, who looks like a cross between Kay Kendall & Kathryn Grayson). The end is very shocking, but black-funny-- Jeyes fluid comes out with a new image. In a way its heroine is one of those allegorical goodtime girls who are all surface, like Christine Keeler & the rootless Hitchcock blondes, especially Janet Leigh's character in Psycho. You see what they do & you wonder what they are thinking. I hope that doesn't give it away too much, because it is a thriller too. Anyway a very entertaining read from a very smooth, sharp pen.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vision of Loveliness, 4 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Vision of Loveliness (Paperback)
purchased it years ago after radio review and only read it in May-still reading it actually. Evoked so many memories of my older sister going to work in London I bought this copy for her. Problem is I bought it before the heroine in the book became a high class prossy, so I hope my sis doesn't get upset with me!!!!!! Good read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Read, 10 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This has been on my 'To Read' list after reading a review in a magazine and I'm so glad I finally got round to it! Well written with brilliant period detailing, will definitely be checking out some of Louise Levene's other books now.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Totally right in period and beautifully written, 4 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Vision of Loveliness (Paperback)
Wonderful writing, totally evocative - it took me back to my own adolescence and young adulthood. I look forward to more books by Louise Levene. ( I believe she is the dance correspondent for the DT.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

A Vision of Loveliness
A Vision of Loveliness by Louise Levene (Paperback - 3 May 2011)
6.39
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews