Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Chelsea Bird

Chelsea Bird by Virginia Ironside
Published by Quercus
21st November 2013
Kindle Edition

The debut novel of acclaimed writer Virginia Ironside, author of No, I Don't Want to join a Bookclub, originally published in 1964, when she was aged just twenty.

London, 1960s. A cultural revolution is taking place. Young people are finally being seen as a force to be reckoned with. But for eighteen-year-old art student Harriet and her Chelsea friends, this amounts to one thing: being 'In'. The King's Road swarms with people wanting to see and be seen; upper-class boys with faux cockney accents party with models, beatniks and photographers; teddy boys are good people to nod to in the street; transport caffs are the must-go places for food, and black men have suddenly become the people to know.

Through Harriet's eyes, Virginia Ironside paints a witty, tongue-in-cheek portrait of life in 1960's London that will strike a nostalgic chord with all those who were there, and make all those who weren't wish they had been.

I didn't think this short read (119 pages) by Virginia Ironside has really dated all that much.  Eighteen year old Harriet has moved to London to pursue her studies as an art student, and we follow her through the streets of the city, observing those around her, and those who make up her life, including boyfriend Tom and friend and fellow student Ann.  The descriptions and observations come across as very accurate and you can imagine being in the heart of the sixties through the prose of Ironside's writing. 

The book isn't meant to be taken seriously, with it's subtitle of confessions of a sixties chick, and it does poke fun at the way people lived their lives trying to be 'hip' and 'with it' in a decade where image suddenly became bang on trend, and everyone wanted to be 'somebody', and when you consider when this was written, and by someone who was only aged 20, then this was a pretty big deal indeed.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

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