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15th May 2023

This week, Dorothy Whipple whose wonderful novels are also historical documents, with glimpses of the reality of contemporary women's working and domestic lives. If you want to know what it was like to work in a second-rate London beauty salon off Regent Street in the 1930s, read The Priory. Working for 'Miss Vanne' (in reality Mrs Porter who is supporting a son at Cambridge), Christine (salon name 'Sonia') with her new eyebrows, lipstick and hair-do, sits on a 'high stool in a white overall filling jars with face-cream' and watches the other Vannettes living a 'looking-glass life', then eats a 'cheap meal in a cheap restaurant' and stays in mean 'digs'. In just a couple of pages, Dorothy Whipple conjures up a whole world of lonely, faux London glamour. (Photo: Elizabeth Arden salon, 1928.) 

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