This memoir by a girl born into the Glenconner family who was a debutante in the 1950s will be evocative of the times to those contemporary in age to the author.
Her family were comparatively new members of the peerage, looked down upon by older aristocratic families, and although she was widely believed to be an heiress, her family gave a lavish coming-out party for her, the family fortune such as it was passed down the male line.
Her supposed prospects led to her being pursued and seduced by a fortune hunter. She became pregnant and had an abortion in an age when society was less tolerant than today. She kept moneyed but louche company, she describes herself as a ‘moll’ which she seems to have enjoyed, but conformed to social expectations by marrying, apparently without much enthusiasm for the match by either participant. She had a son to whom she was devoted but otherwise found married life empty. She portrays the difficulty girls of her class had adapting to married life at a young age. Servants ran the home, leaving a girl with limited intellectual and cultural interests with little to interest or occupy her. Almost inevitably her marriage failed as did two subsequent unions.
Obliged to find a means of earning her living she turned to writing, working for a number of magazines, and later publishing a succession of novels. In doing so she alienated members of her circle who recognised themselves in unflattering terms in her books. Increasingly disaffected from the world in which she grew up, she claims she invariably voted Labour, she mixed with all sorts of people from all classes, including many public figures.
She was conscious of her difficulty in growing up, hence the title ‘Girlitude’ but she describes her travails with charm and wit. Her habit of interpolating long parenthetical passages in her sentences, widely separating the beginning and the end, doesn’t always make for an easy read but whatever her shortcomings as a writer she has the gift of bringing people and scenes to life. Not a book for everyone perhaps, but for those who remember the times she describes, a rewarding and enjoyable read.
This woman cannot write a coherent sentence. This book and 'Strangers' are both going straight in the recycling bin. She rambles and drones in every sentence and life is too short to keep re-reading the same words so as to get to her meaning (if she has one and I seriously doubt it)