Book Review: The Women in Black by Madeleine St John

The Women in Black by Madeleine St John

A review.

How do you judge a good book? Is it by the speed with which you turn each page or swipe at your kindle? Is it the laughs? The tears? The nail biting plot? The way the characters leap at you from the page and remain with you long after the epilogue?

In the case of The Women in Black by Madeleine St John, it is the delightful, characterisation of life and love. It is the conversational simplicity of its succinct chapters. Its no-nonsense character-driven stories and its birds-eye-view of the experiences, dreams, relationships and societal conforms that mould us.

In 1950’s Sydney, the Ladies Cocktail Frock level of the F.G. Goode Department store, is abuzz with the excitement of Christmas and the impending frenzy of Boxing Day shoppers. Temporary sales assistant Lesley Lisa, a recent high school graduate and the embodiment of a deer caught in headlights, is thrust into a fairy-tale world of pure sophistication. Destined for university and a life of accomplishment, Lesley Lisa provides a picture of promise and opportunity not commonplace within the era nor amongst the women with which our young, bright-eyed, leading lady stands alongside.

The Women in Black is a firecracker of a novel teeming with wit, charm, off-beat humour and strong, relatable characters whose story’s radiate honesty and timelessness. An exploration of the inner workings of the female mind – of the complexity that defines a seemingly ordinary existence. A short, tender read that leaves an uplifting impression.

The Women in Black is the gentle, clever, rainy-day pickled-ginger you’ve been looking for. And, as a side note, an adaptation titled ‘Ladies in Black’ is about to hit the big screen. Pure, happy coincidence.

A book review

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