Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes: The Story of Women in the 1950s
by Nicholson Virginia (9780241958049)

Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes: The Story of Women in the 1950s
Nicholson Virginia
Release Date: 01 May 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 544
Category: British & Irish History
Publisher: Penguin UK
ISBN: 9780241958049

Turn the page back to the mid-twentieth century, and discover a world peopled by women with radiant smiles, clean pinafores and gleaming coiffures; a promised land of batch-baking, maraschino cherries and brightly-hued plastic. A time before the Pill, when divorce spelled scandal, and two-piece swimsuits caused mass alarm.

Many of us today first opened our eyes onto this world. In 1951 British women helped to throw out the government that had brought them the Welfare State, and elect one that would deliver full employment and a consumer boom.

We've got everything now. I've a fridge, a washer and a television set, and that's all I want in life . . .

But were our mothers and grandmothers really so easily satisfied?

As a girl I wanted to be a lawyer. My headmistress said it wasn't for girls . . .

Higher education was seen as husband-hunting. Ambition meant being a secretary and marrying the boss. In Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes Virginia Nicholson reconstructs the real 1950s, through the eyes of the women who lived it. We meet factory girls and Teddy girls, students and housewives, diplomats and immigrants. We meet women who thought you got pregnant if you kissed a man. Women whose gloves matched their handbags. In the '50s femininity was for sale as never before. The dark side of the decade encompasses rampant prostitution, a notorious murder, and the threat of nuclear disaster.

Here is a narrative of frustration and fear - but also of holiday camps, beauty contests, optimism and rock'n'roll. Step back in time - to the back-to-backs and the brand-new homes with their picture windows. Here, where our grandmothers scrubbed their doorsteps, cared for their families, lived, laughed, loved and struggled.

This is their story.

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