West End Girls: The Real Lives, Loves and Friendships of 1940s Soho and its Working Girls
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West End Girls: The Real Lives, Loves and Friendships of 1940s Soho and its Working Girls

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  117 ratings  ·  26 reviews
A vivid and compelling memoir recounting the real lives, loves, and friendship of 1940s Soho and its working girls

Barbara Tate was 17 when she heard the whispered word that would change her life: Soho. It would take four years for Barbara to escape her loveless home but when she finally made it to the forbidden streets of Soho—just as London was recovering from the trauma...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 22nd 2010 by Orion Publishing
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I opened this book in the store, read a couple of pages, and could barely close it long enough to hand to the cashier so I could leave. The prose is fabulous (in most parts) and I think it's a real shame that the author died before writing any more books.

That being said though, the book could really have benefited from some heavy editing. There were whole sections that were wonderfully gripping, and other whole sections that were clumsy and forced. It was as if the main story was really what 'wo...more
Penny Grubb
An incredible tale that almost didn't make it to publication. Barbara Tate tells the story of her time as a prostitute's maid in Soho in a light engaging style that makes for easy reading. On several levels it's an amazing tale - the story itself and the insight it gives into Soho then and when she revisited later; how she came to be there at all; how the book came to be blocked when she first tried for publication (that story is added at the end). She went on to have a very successful career as...more
Could not put this down and read it in a matter of hours. I am fascinated by people who seem normal yet have secret aspects to their lives. Barbara does not seem jaded by her experiences and her compassion for these people touches me.
An enjoyable and insightful read.

I felt as though some of the characters in this book had become my friends - It's all in the way Tate portrays them I guess, maybe it's that I saw a little of myself in Barbara.

The end of the book almost had me feeling like I was grieving for someone, yet you could almost see it coming - I still found myself reading on to find out what became of these people, and with each person a hope of happier times. Although it wasn't the case I would certainly read this aga...more
Stuart Aken
A book variously described as a memoir, a biography and an autobiography, West End Girls details the lives of Soho prostitutes through the eyes of a virginal, innocent but forthright narrator (I have great empathy with the author, as I used a similar narrator in my novel, Breaking Faith, so my review could be a little biased; please bear that in mind).
Written with humour and displaying an extraordinary naivety mixed with a growing worldliness developed along the journey, this memoir is full of...more
May 21, 2012 Hol added it
This is a memoir of two years the author spent working as a prostitute’s “maid”--housekeeper, companion, cashier, and errand girl--in late 1940s Soho. Though the book holds interest in its unusual glimpse of postwar London, Tate shares frustratingly little of her own thoughts or feelings about this phase in her life. Afterward she became an artist and suburban wife and mother; in the Epilogue she writes, “I had a perfect marriage.” Well, good! And that’s about the level of insight you can expect...more
Robert Pereno
Jul 24, 2011 Robert Pereno rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: My Soho friends.
Recommended to Robert by: Babette my wife.
A fascinating tale of working girls during the 40s in Soho. A very easy engaging read.
Quick and easy read. Next please!
Jonathan Stephenson
The non-judgemental approach of the author, as she relates her time as an ingénue among the more worldly and artful of London's Soho, not long after World War II, is commendable for its openness and acceptance of human nature. However, I read this book as research, already knowing a good deal about the time and place—and had expected a more in-depth insight into the edgy world around her than Barbara Tate (or her editor) delivers.

Although there are snippets of detail the bigger picture of conte...more
about halfway through I decided that this was reading like a list of incidents. Perhaps that's how memoirs generally read, I couldn't say. But, I still wanted to see how it finished up and was satisfied with a well rounded ending.
Interesting subject matter, and the circumstances of the author give an unusual insight into the Soho of the 50's and with it's comparison to present day.
An interesting insight into the life of 'working girls' in 1940's Soho. An autobiographical account of a naive young woman who gets drawn into the world working as a maid for a couple of years, before moving on to become a painter. Nicely written, it conveys a good sense of the camaraderie, harshness, backstabbing and vulnerability of the women.
Loved it! An insightful glimpse in to this fascinating world. So glad Barbara Tate captured it all and tragic that she never got to see the success which I am certain this book will achieve. I particularly liked how much fun these ladies had in an arguably dark and unforgiving world. A rollercoaster of emotions, a really great read.
a true story by the author who was an artist but was caught up as a maid in Soho .
She is loyal to Mae and much revolves round the life of Mae and some of the other girls.
It took a while to get into and is not for the faint hearted.
A very honest book with a heart warming (sometimes gruesome!) account of what life was like for those girls post war. It was very eye-opening and captivating. I loved it, a page turner.
Christmas present book. I enjoyed reading this, but its description of the lives of the working girls is not shocking as the blurb would have you believe. the ending is though.
I loved this book and couldn't put it down. Found the end quite haunting but am so glad I had the chance to read about some remarkable characters from a bygone era.
Cameron Callaghan
A beautifully written account of a world I could not have imagined on my own. Without malice this woman wrote about how it was. Could not put it down.
i loved this book, Barbara Tate describes 1940's soho so well you feel like you are there and know the characters personally . well worth a read :)
Fascinating. What a life. It's amazing that Barbara Tate got this bird's eye view into the Soho underworld without getting damaged by it.
Andrew Scarsbrook
Best book I have read this year.. Really engaging with characters you bond too and locations you almost know (as a londoner)
A friends boyf gave this to her for her birthday...........we were shocked its excellent loved it!
Sue Styant
Non fiction story about prostitution in 1940's London, entertaining and an eye opener.
not sure what to put but i enjoyed but felt that it was boring at times.
Fascinating read - what a life!
Loved it. Couldn't put it down.
Barbara Minne
Brilliant .. True story.
Kim marked it as to-read
Aug 13, 2014
Rebecca Morgan
Rebecca Morgan marked it as to-read
Aug 05, 2014
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