The Women in Black

The Women in Black At F G Goode s department store the women in black are run off their feet what with the Christmas rush and the summer sales that follow But it s Sydney in the s and there s still just enough tim

  • Title: The Women in Black
  • Author: Madeleine St. John Deidre Rubenstein
  • ISBN: 9781742144733
  • Page: 244
  • Format: Audio CD
  • At F G Goode s department store the women in black are run off their feet, what with the Christmas rush and the summer sales that follow But it s Sydney in the 1950s, and there s still just enough time left on a hot and frantic day to dream and scheme

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      Posted by:Madeleine St. John Deidre Rubenstein
      Published :2018-012-25T19:24:42+00:00

    1 thought on “The Women in Black”

    1. An Aussie classic from Text Publishing, The Women In Black by Madeleine St. John is a great read. The musical adaptation of the book, Ladies in Black is playing in Melbourne at present to enthusiastic audiences.This delightful novel is set in the Women’s clothing department of a major Sydney department store in the 1950s. The story is character-driven, rather than having an elaborate action-oriented plot. It starts rather slow and low-key, but gradually builds into a most entertaining tale. At [...]

    2. Geez, I dunno. What am I missing? I think this is possibly the first time I have ever been bamboozled and swept off a book's trail by its foreword. Coming to this book knowing nothing about Madeleine St John, I decided to read the foreword written by the film director, Bruce Beresford, who was Madeleine's class compatriot at Sydney University in the early 1960's.I became interested in the author herself - who was this difficult woman whose tastes went in all directions - Christianity, Buffy the [...]

    3. This is a charming novel that gives a picture of Sydney in the 1950s and the salesladies that wore black dresses. I was surprised to find it was written in 1993. I thought it might have been earlier than that. It’s not compelling reading but it is quietly enjoyable. I loved the cast of characters with Patty, Fay, Magda and her husband Stefan and Lesley who changes her name to Lisa. They all work in the frock section (yes they were called frocks not dresses back then) except for Magda who has c [...]

    4. The Women in Black is set in a the Women's Frock section of a 1950s Sydney department store where the sales assistants must all wear black dresses. Patty, Fay and Miss Jacobs (whose Christian name we never learn) all work in 'Ladies' Cocktail' while Slovenian emigre Magda rules the exclusive 'Model Gowns' section. Arriving into this refined environment as a summer casual is bright-eyed Lisa (Lesley to her parents) who has just left school and is waiting for the results of her leaving exams. It's [...]

    5. The Women in Black is first of only four published novels by Madeleine St John. This edition includes a perceptive introduction by her contemporary, Bruce Beresford, and an obituary by Christopher Potter. Under the guise of a story about the staff of the Ladies’ Cocktail section at F.G. Goode’s (the Women in Black), St John takes us back to Sydney in the late 1950’s. St John manages, with very few words, to bring back the feel of those times, the ideas and attitudes, in full living colour. [...]

    6. This was a fun read - a little insight into life into Sydney in the 1960’s. There is no great, dramatic plot that holds you on its knife edge or any great controversy, but it was interesting to read about Patty, Fay and Lisa, the sales assistants in Cocktail Frocks, and Magda, a Continental, in Model Gowns, who eats salami and throws exotic parties.This was a very easy read - I flew through it in a day - and it was a day when I had other things to do and couldn’t even spend all day reading. [...]

    7. I don't usually have to think long and hard at the end of a novel as to whether I enjoyed it or not. It's usually a gut response. The Women in Black by Madeleine St John is set in Sydney of 1960 in the ladies' frocks department of FG Goode's. The story is essentially a series of vignettes of the lives of the central characters of Lisa/Lesley, a high-school leaver working a casual Christmas job; Patty, whose husband leaves out of the blue, forcing her to cover for his disappearance to her family, [...]

    8. The Women in Black was a book I’d had on my ‘must buy’ list for some time. Fortunately, the release of Text Classics meant that I simply had to buy it! In my hazy recollection, I thought that this book might be something like the television programme Are You Being Served? but with a bit more weight to it.I was wrong. In no way should this book be compared to that TV show – this book is SO MUCH MORE. (Yes, I’m shouting. Delete those thoughts of Mrs Slocombe’s hair immediately). This i [...]

    9. I really enjoyed this gentle, charming story of the women working at Goode's department store in the late 1950s. In spite of their uniform black dresses which give the novel its name, each of the characters is facing their own challenges in their lives outside the store. While this is a coming of age story for Lisa/Lesley, Patty and Fay also experience growth and transformation through the course of the story. Their wishes for themselves are not extravagant which makes this a touching story.The [...]

    10. I loved reading this book as I reminded me so much about what it was like being a teenager in the 60s and going into the big shops "in town". It also reminded me that women at that time were taking stands against the very overt sexism that was abounding, mainly in a covert way, I know. Maybe this is where my earliest recollections of the practices of feminism come from. The language was spot on and the depiction of the characters and their relationships captured the times very accurately.

    11. A unique pleasure to read. Set in 1960s Sydney, it follows a small group of women in their lives working in the frock department at a big shop. Beautifully written, it subtly builds complex pictures about them, their anxieties and dreams. Great dialogue and superb descriptions.

    12. I enjoyed this comedy of manners set in Goode's department store (Ladies' Cocktail Frocks) in Sydney 1960, based on David Jones. Her observations of the tone and atmosphere of the store, & its customers, are very funny. A Jane Austen-style wit and a Tolstoy influence in one party scene, her writing is light but clever. Shows the fun, and the constraints, of being a woman in that era. Love the Hungarian characters ('Continentals'). A good read.

    13. At first I found this pretty darn boring but it grew on me as it went on, particularly in the second half. I wouldn't call it an important work of great fiction, but it's cute and light. I liked being transported to 1950s Sydney because I could easily picture locations and recognise certain characters and temperaments, whilst also enjoying a little dash of imagination with the different time period. Reading this felt like opening up an old block of Cadbury chocolate, unwrapping the foil and ever [...]

    14. I don’t usually write reviews for re-reads because they must be ace books if I’m taking the time to re-read them, right? But there’s been a few exceptions along the way and The Women In Black by Madeleine St. John is one.I’d forgotten just how charming this story is when I picked it up last Friday. My hasty re-read (it is a very short book) was prompted by my theatre engagement that evening – Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Ladies in Black.Set in a department store in Sydne [...]

    15. Hilary Mantel is right - this truly is a pocket masterpiece, a jewel. Others describe the book as a comedy of manners, or a black comedy. Yes, true, but it is so insightful, so humane and oh so kind!Where the era is concerned, Madeleine St John has 'nailed' it. I remember it well. I even worked in the scarf department on the ground floor of David Jones, Elizabeth St in the early 1960s, when I was a sixteen year old very similar to Lesley/Lisa, having just completed the Leaving Certificate, on my [...]

    16. This book is a delight. FG Goode, the department store, is a thinly disguised David Jones department store, a Sydney landmark. The late 1950′s setting is a little earlier than when I first started visiting the store as a child, but the feel is the same. Very proper sales ladies dressed in black (as they still are) and a store where only the best could be bought.The book has a wry humour concerning the worries and day to day happenings of the characters but is never cruel. The world of 1950s Au [...]

    17. Lesley hates her name, and decides to change it at the first opportunity. The first opportunity comes when she gets a job as a Sales Assistant (Temporary) at FG Goode, Sydney's most prestigious department store, and she transforms herself into Lisa – but still looks like a badly dressed, under-nourished child. Lisa, as we must now call her (though her bewildered mother finds this hard to cope with), is awaiting the results of her Leavers Certificate examinations, and is hoping to go to univers [...]

    18. This is a 'Comedy of manners' set in Sydney in the 1950s. The 'women in black' are the employees of a department store, 'Goode's', a fictional version of David Jones. It doesn't have a plot and a central character as such; instead it explores the lives of a number of women working at in the 'cocktail frock' department during the Christmas rush - the married but childless Patty, the almost-30 singleton Fay, who is desperate to marry; the clever 18-year-old Lesley (who changes her name to Lisa) wh [...]

    19. This book was recommended by Evelyn Chapman and it has been delightful! Set in the 1960's in a Dress section of a shop similar to David Jones/Myer in a time when women had few working options it offers a lovely insight into Australian history, fashion and friendships. Really easy to read with engaging and enduring characters I would recommend this one for a rainy day. The copy I had also had two lovely tales about the author who was a story in her own right and sounds like quite the character!

    20. Given that St John is one of those Australians who leave and declines ever to come back, I was in an uneasy state whilst reading Women in Black. Is the satire affectionate or spiteful? One might assume the latter. And yet, thinking enough of it to try another, The Essence of the Thing set in the London in which she spent most of her adulthood, it is evident that she does have the necessary sympathy for her subjects to keep the reader onsidest is here: alittleteaalittlechat.wordpre

    21. Another book club read, otherwise I would not have touched it. I was hopeful this book might be better than The Essence of the Thing (after all, from that Mads could only go up) and it was - by the merest squeak. At least in this book there was a little progression with the story line, but it is still not worth wasting 3 hours of my life. The author does not have a good handle on flowing conversation or know how to make a situation credible. Tedious, pointless . frustrating!!!One thing I did lea [...]

    22. This rather delicious black comedy is set in F. G. Goode's, a Sydney department store — rumoured to be based on David Jones — during the 1950s and follows a group of women from various backgrounds who work in Ladies' Frocks. It's an utterly delicious read — heartwarming, life affirming, funny and sad, all at the same time.To read my review in full, please visit my blog.

    23. This is a most interesting book. Set in Sydney in the 1950s it depicts a restricted world that today's young women would never recognise. Poignant, tender, and witty, this is a book that shows Australia on the cusp of great changesTo see my review please visit anzlitlovers.wordpress/201

    24. A quirky little story set in the 1950's where womens dress sizes were described as XSSW, SSW, OS, etc. Very Australian story, brought back memories of my own childhood, and very much appropriate to that era.

    25. Delightful little novel about the women who work in a Sydney department store in the 1950s. Perfectly captured the time and place, particularly the Australian vernacular. Barry Humphries describes it as 'a major minor masterpiece'.

    26. So well written I actually felt I'd fallen into parochial 1960s Sydney and couldn't get out (until the story ended, obvs).

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