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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best reads of my Life
I read a review for this book in the Sunday Times and decided that I would be interested in reading it, frequenting Soho often myself. The review was positive, but wow. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is probably one of the best books I have ever read in my life... And I read a lot of books.

I read this in three days, I couldn't put it down, never...
Published on 11 Aug 2010 by Chris

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting tale of life as a prostitute's maid
Barbara Tate gives us an insight into the life of the prostitutes of Soho in the late 40s and 50s. It's an easy, page-turning read, but it's short on detail - it seems a bit bland, generic and emotionless. Maybe she's just not a great writer. She says she has fictionalised her story somewhat.

It starts well, with her leaving a cruel grandmother and setting up...
Published on 13 Mar 2011 by Ms. L. R. Fisher


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best reads of my Life, 11 Aug 2010
This review is from: West End Girls (Hardcover)
I read a review for this book in the Sunday Times and decided that I would be interested in reading it, frequenting Soho often myself. The review was positive, but wow. I am not exaggerating when I say that this is probably one of the best books I have ever read in my life... And I read a lot of books.

I read this in three days, I couldn't put it down, never wanting my train journeys to end!

Barbara Tate tells the story of her time working with Mae, a prostitute in 1940's Soho and the friendships she developed along the way. Barbara has a knack of bringing the characters to life so vividly that you can picture them in your mind and want to befriend them, and you feel privileged to be so close to them and there world.

This book will make you laugh (Out Loud as I did on the train earlier today) and cry in parts, but it fills you with admiration at the strength of the human spirit.

This book is just waiting to be filmed..... I can hardly wait!

God bless you Barbara for bringing us this story of your short but memorable time in Soho, and the colourful people you met along the way.

You have acheived your goal and painted a perfect picture....only with words!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting tale of life as a prostitute's maid, 13 Mar 2011
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This review is from: West End Girls (Paperback)
Barbara Tate gives us an insight into the life of the prostitutes of Soho in the late 40s and 50s. It's an easy, page-turning read, but it's short on detail - it seems a bit bland, generic and emotionless. Maybe she's just not a great writer. She says she has fictionalised her story somewhat.

It starts well, with her leaving a cruel grandmother and setting up on her own in a bedsit, working at a firm producing hand-painted furniture. She then gets an evening job in a bar, and eventually a job as a maid to a prostitute called Mae. The early descriptions of Mae's filthy "hustling flat" in a deserted building are compelling. She is also clear-eyed about the way the "ponces" preyed on women, giving them the illusion that they are in a relationship while taking all their money. (Has that changed? I doubt it.)

I am sure that the details she gives of how a prostitute carried on her trade (with a two-way mirror, and bound and gagged clients left in the waiting room) are true to life, but I feel that she has taken anecdotes she's heard and woven them into her own story. And not all these anecdotes are as "hilarious" as she thinks them. The middle of the book is padded out somewhat with these anecdotes.

She says that she wrote the story in 1977 - dictating it to her husband. After a few rejections, she found a publisher, and an editor who cut the manuscript and gave it more "flow".

I wonder how much of what we read is the work of editors? It reminds me of the books by "Miss S" about her life as a prostitute - both the flatness of the prose and the peppering with "amusing" escapades.

The end, where we learn of the sad fate of Mae, is truly tragic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read., 23 Dec 2011
This review is from: West End Girls (Paperback)
Absolutely brilliant. Hard to put down and the ending answers all the questions you want answered. Such an interesting insight into those times and beautifully told. A book I wouldn't hesitate to read again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars West End Girls, 31 Aug 2010
This review is from: West End Girls (Hardcover)
For those of who who remember the 1950's and early 1960's London Soho with its day world of Italian restaurants and excellent veg shops, and it's night world that respectable people and children could only safely glimpse through the window of a passing car Barbara Tate's book is a nostalgic reminder of a world long past.

Compared to today's world the Soho night-town, despite all our parents warnings, was really a vulgar innocent. The night-town crew of street girls, pimps and petty gangsters more-or-less kept to themselves, and the passerby was seldom molested or manhandled, and Barbara's posthumous book catches all the cheekiness and seediness of this long-ago world.

For those Londoners who were there, and those who just want to catch an authentic flavour of the time 'West End Girls' can be highly recommended as a thoughtful, well-written, and amusing doorway into post war Soho.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and illuminating, 23 Sep 2010
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B. Murray "beleclaire" (south london) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: West End Girls (Hardcover)
Like an earlier reviewer I bought this book on the strength of reading the Sunday Times review of it. It is a fascinating read and I found it quite compulsive. I read it quickly in 3 sittings. What shines through is the honesty and integrity of the author who realised that she had lived through and experienced a bizarre and unusual slice of life and then acted on her urge to communicate her experience to a wider audience.
The additional story of how the book came to be(finally) published is also very interesting
The Soho she describes is both innocent and sleazy..certainly prostitution nowadays is a much tougher/violent and bigger business than it was then...you get a 'village' feel of the area and the sense of community.

This is a very good read...don't be put off by the few disparaging comments it has attracted here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An alternative look at the Soho trade, 9 Oct 2011
This review is from: West End Girls (Kindle Edition)
Barbara Tate has described what really used to go on behind the scenes for the prostitution trade in Soho. This is an illuminating and honest insight into Britain's social history without feeling the need to add all the erotic details. Too many people judge prostitutes as low-life when in truth they are little different from anyone else; just forced by circumstances to choose a "different" trade. Well done Barbara Tate!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Annoyingly unputdownable, 18 Mar 2011
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This review is from: West End Girls (Hardcover)
Curiosity at the variety of life depicted in this book meant I just couldn't put it down. How on earth a virginal girl ended up in such a sleazy place, working for such a wild woman beggars belief. Their uniting factor was loneliness and a wicked sense of humour. Unlike other reviewers, I actually liked the writing style. Yes, it is a bit 'jolly hockey sticks' but it enabled me to build up a picture of how Babs might have thought and spoken - and it seemed appropriate to the era. It's a very easy read, so I'd recommend the book - as long as you're very broad minded .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating & eye-opening read, 7 Oct 2010
This review is from: West End Girls (Hardcover)
What a book! Truly addictive reading, I couldn't put this down. Fascinating true story of an amazing woman's life in & love of Soho. I read this on holiday last week, but still think about the different women she met, how they handled their work and life (or not!) and wish there was more to read! I don't think I'll be able to look at Soho in the same way again. Marvellous book, I highly recommend it!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most endearing story, 21 July 2010
This review is from: West End Girls (Hardcover)
With her warm heart and gentle inquisitiveness, Barbara has managed to turn Soho's prostitutes into real people. If you have seen and loved the film "Mrs Hendersons", you will love this book.

Full disclosure : I "discovered" this story and helped to get it published (I am not involved in the publishing business)

A few years ago, before I met Barbara Tate, I was given the original manuscript for West End Girls. Typed up in the 1970's on an old fashioned typewriter, bound in a rather hefty old lever arch folder, I started reading it in bed one night. At 5AM the next morning, I was still reading. There was something enthralling about the story - a real period piece, a subversive topic clothed in Barbara's deft, innocent and rather old fashioned turn of phrase. It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, something which Barbara so often emphasised to me herself.

Barbara's wonderland was the dark underbelly of Soho, and Mae the prostitute was her queen of hearts - vivacious, spontaneous, bitchy, and very good at her job. This book is an enthralling, fascinating and unique insight into the lives, hearts and minds of Soho's sex industry in the late 1940s. I enjoyed it so much I had to get it published, I think you will too.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 10 Aug 2010
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This review is from: West End Girls (Hardcover)
This book is so atmospheric, so detailed, I really couldn't put it down. A fabulous account of the 'working girls' day to day lives and told from a very affectionate yet honest viewpoint. Highly recommended!
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West End Girls
West End Girls by Barbara Tate (Paperback - 3 Mar 2011)
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