The Fifties Mystique
By Jessica Mann
Many young women ‘long to put the clock back to the post-war years when life seemed prettier and nicer.’ In this book Jessica Mann demolishes such preconceptions about their mothers’ or grandmothers’ young days, showing that in reality life was uglier and nastier.
Born just before WW2, she grew up in the post-war era of austerity, restrictions and hypocrisy, before anyone even dreamed of Women’s Lib. The Fifties Mystique is both a personal memoir and a polemic. In explaining the lives of pre-feminists to the post-feminists of today, Mann discusses the period’s very different attitudes to sex, childbirth, motherhood and work, describes how she and other young women lived in that distant world with its forgotten restrictions and warns against taking hard-won rights for granted.
Jessica Mann is the author of 21 crime novels and 4 non-fiction books. As a journalist she has written for national newspapers, weeklies and glossy magazines and is the crime fiction critic of the Literary Review.
Paperback, 224 pages. ISBN 9781908878076.
First published by Quartet Books in 2012.
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Jessica Mann's Author Page.
‘Jessica Mann analyses the decade with forensic precision – stripping away the rose-coloured specs for good’ — The Daily Mail
‘thoughtful and emphatic … a richly readable and persuasive piece of work’ — Penelope Lively, The Spectator
an ‘excellently readable book’ — Katharine Whitehorn
‘Her battle cry is full of vivid descriptions of the grim, snobbery and casual misogyny of postwar Britain. A crime-writer by trade, her barely veiled exasperation only makes the polemic more enjoyable … ’ — The Mail on Sunday
‘an extremely engaging read: revealing, touching, informative and occasionally comic.’ — Simon Parker, The Western Morning News
‘She recalls the grime of the 50s: endless stinking nappy buckets; smog; inadequate washing facilities; body odour whenever people were crowded together. She recalls boredom and isolation, and suspects both the child-rearing experts and the government of a concerted push to get mothers back home after the war, so that there would be jobs for the returning ‘boys’. And she recalls the unacceptability of talking, or sometimes even knowing, about sex, female anatomy, and cancer. She is bang on’ — Baroness Neuberger, The Jewish Chronicle