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AuthorRachel Cooke
PublisherLittle, Brown Book Group
Publication Date01 May 2014
Book DescriptionIn her apron and rubber gloves, a smile lipsticked permanently across her face, the woman of the Fifties has become a cultural symbol of all that we are most grateful to have sloughed off. A homely compliant creature, she knows little or nothing of sex, and stands no chance at all of having a career. She must marry or die. But what if there was another side to the story? In this book Rachel Cooke tells the story of ten extraordinary women whose pioneering professional lives - and complicated private lives - paved the way for future generations. Muriel Box, film director. Betty Box, film producer. Margery Fish, plantswoman. Patience Gray, cook. Alison Smithson, architect. Sheila van Damm, rally car driver and theatre owner. Nancy Spain, journalist and radio personality. Joan Werner Laurie, editor. Jacquetta Hawkes, archaeologist. Rose Heilbron, QC. Plucky and ambitious, they left the house, discovered the bliss of work, and ushered in the era of the working woman.
Editorial ReviewHer Brilliant Career is a corrective, a hurrah for the oldies. Despite barriers that dwarf those that persist today, plenty of gutsy women rode the Fifties unthwarted and unclenched. Ms Cooke takes an exuberant gallop through the careers and private lives of ten of them in Britain * The Economist * Cooke writes with such zest about such interesting lives * Guardian * Cooke is one of the outstanding British journalists of her generation -- Sebastian Faulks * New York Times * What a treat . . . Thank you, Rachel Cooke, for finding, and judiciously commenting on, these women insouciant of feminism and strangers to guilt (which 'had not yet been invented'); for succinct scene-setting of the 1950s with phrases like 'Cue mambo on the juke-box'; and for never once using the dread word "feisty" * Oldie * Rachel Cooke's fantastic, clever, funny, illuminating book about 10 remarkable women -- India Knight * Sunday Times * Ten fascinating biographies for the price of one, and an exuberant dig into a decade which we've rather grassed over. Her Brilliant Career is a vivid, witty, affectionate page-turner about some amazing lost heroines -- Melanie Reid * The Times * Eloquent, concise, fair-minded, witty and elegant . . . Her Brilliant Career is the perfect book with which to celebrate Virago's 40 years of championing feminist writing -- Amanda Craig * Independent on Sunday * Vastly entertaining, cannily researched and sharply perceptive * Telegraph * There is warmth and lightness of spirit to this book: it is witty, intelligent, kind and poignant. Cooke exudes love and knowledge of people, gardens, food, art . . . she leaves you wanting more * The Times * Rachel Cooke shines a new light in an elegantly original way into the 1950s and especially into the role of women therein. By cleverly focussing on the lives of several extraordinary women, she manages to produce a social history which is highly absorbing and richly informative. A very enjoyable and distinctive book -- Kate Atkinson A gallery of vividly drawn portaits - witty, poignant, inspiriting - that opens up a new front in our understanding of the "lost" Fifties -- David Kynaston, author of Modernity Britain Inspirational, warm and witty * Daily Mail *
About the AuthorRachel Cooke was born in Sheffield. An award-winning journalist, she writes for The Observer, and is the television critic of the New Statesman. This is her first book.
Number of Pages384