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Bombsites and Lollipops: My 1950s East End Childhood Paperback – 2 May 2011
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About the Author
Jacky Hyams is a London-based journalist and non fiction author who has written extensively, on a wide range of topics, for many of the leading mass market newspapers and magazines in the UK and Australia for several years.
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Other reviewers seem uncertain how to describe the daughter of Molly and Ginger, the authoress, Jackie. Is this an 'ordinary' childhood'? Is she just a 'spoilt kid'? Is this a case of sheer selfishness - 'Me.me,me'? No it is none and all of these.It is actually a very truthful story of a child's growth to womanhood and independence in a bizarre post-war poor neighbourhood; a privileged, affluent family dependent on a father whose money came from the wrong side of the law and whose friends were often 'undesirables'. Ginger is an illegal bookie's runner and Molly the typical 'dolly bird' of the 50's.
Jackie and her friends present the thoughtful reader with challenging questions about education, morality, family relationships,adolescence and chastity. The answers emerging in the story reflect pre-sixties 'liberation' but are close enough to present the dilemmas facing a generation living across those years.
To suggest that the story is boring can only reflect a reader either careless enough to simply focus on each set of events or unprepared to 'read' the fascinating sub-text that emerges from practically every episode that Jackie describes. An attentive reader will find a central character who, in her storytelling, virtually presents the body-language you might find in a film. I am just a few years older than Jackie. The portrait of the period is clear, vivid and stimulating. The book is the difference between a primary source and a secondary source. If you want a detailed history, buy a history book. If you want to feel and understand what it was like to live in immediate post-war cities, you will find no better book on the shelf especially towards the end.
Just one tiny criticism: Jackie is a journalist and there is something slightly sassy in the selective journalistic nature of the narrative. Strangely, for me, the control in the later chapters is enhanced by that selection. This is a relaxing and informative read.
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