Most helpful positive review
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on 20 June 2014
This debut novel was first published in 1964. Subtitled, “confessions of a sixties chick,” it is a tongue in cheek look at sixties London, seen through the eyes of eighteen year old art student Harriet Bennett. Harriet has a boyfriend, Tom Robertson, who works in television and orders meals for both of them without consulting her about her choices and a friend, Ann Hopkins, who is a fellow student and who bores her silly. Harriet is, mostly, bored. She loathes college, but is concerned when she might be thrown out for not attending; she skips from party to bar seeing the same old people and enduring the casual sexism of the men around her. Wisely wishing to sing, “From Me to You,” when visiting her aunt and uncle, we are aware that it is still the early sixties and Tom is more a fan of jazz and classical music than the ‘pops’ he disparages. Her own likes are dismissed by Tom and his friend Nick and the music she wants to listen to, the food she wants to eat, and her own opinions, are relegated because of her age and her gender.
You really get a sense of sixties London in this novel. Times are changing and everyone is going to great lengths to be ‘In.’ It is smart to be young and to have an accent – preferably a cockney or Northern one (their music may be sneered at, but the Beatles influence in clothes, accent, etc, is already being felt). People are pretentious and concerned about clothes and image. Harriet wonders about which brand of cigarettes to buy which will impress her fellow students and friends. She craves romance, but this book also finds her illusions dampened by the reality of feeling used , the discomfort of single beds and the appearance of drugs. Harriet is a young woman feeling her way in a changing world and trying to find her place in it and we aware of both her journey and her basic good sense. Overall, this was an interesting and evocative novel and one which I enjoyed very much. Lastly, I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.