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West End Girls by [Tate, Barbara]
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West End Girls Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews

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Length: 321 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Review

Tate's account of her time as 'a maid' to a 1940s Soho tart is warm and affecting (READERS DIGEST)

Readers of a shockable disposition should avoid this book - everyone else should rush out and buy a first edition. It is a jawdropping account of Soho prostitutes in the late forties - a world Barbara knew as she worked for one as her maid - She always said she wanted to paint one perfect picture before she died: she has certainly written one perfect book. (Lynn Barber THE SUNDAY TIMES)

This frank memoir of a lost bohemian culture and underworld [is] told with warmth and sympathy. (SAGA)

Hovering over this affectionate memoir of the rackety Soho of 60 years ago is the sharp awareness that Barbara could easily have ended up, like the lost girls she describes ... her book acknowledges with humility and grace, as well as wit, how close she came to living the tough, funny and colourful but ultimately tragic life she describes. (Jane Shilling DAILY MAIL)

a truly fascinating, entertaining and heart-warming glimpse into some of Soho's most eccentric and outrageous characters. (SUNDAY EXPRESS)

`Not only is this memoir told with candour and compassion but it also affords a fascinating glimpse into a lurid byway of London's social history ... Tate's memoir fizzes with anecdotes and the quality of her writing is superb.' (DAILY EXPRESS)

a winning mixture of art and prostitution ... One of the great strengths of this unexpectedly charming memoir is that it abounds with ... detail about the working life of a prostitute in the Forties ... a splendidly evocative memoir (Craig Brown MAIL ON SUNDAY)

This is a fascinating, dryly humorous book which lifts the lid on an intriguingly sordid world. (THE CHAP)

...by turns salty, funny and sad. (Craig Brown THE WEEK)

Book Description

The real lives, loves and friendship of 1940s Soho and its working girls.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 889 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (22 July 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003XNTU16
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #53,184 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A capturing story from beginning to end and it's hard to believe our author was never tempted to work on the other side.
I enjoyed reading this and would have been happy to read more about the author in later life however as said very readable and enjoyable.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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