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Women in Black

by Madeleine St John

At the very end of the Ladies’ Frocks Departments, past Cocktail Frocks, there was something very special, something quite, quite wonderful; but it wasn’t for everybody: that was the point. Because there, at the very end, there was a lovely arch, on which was written in curly letters Model Gowns.

Written by a superb novelist of contemporary manners,The Women in Black is a fairytale which illuminates the extraordinariness of ordinary lives. The women in black are run off their feet, what with the Christmas rush and the summer sales that follow. But it’s Sydney in the 1950s, and there’s still just enough time left on a hot and frantic day to dream and scheme…

By the time the last marked-down frock has been sold, most of the staff of the Ladies’ Cocktail section at F. G. Goode’s have been launched into slightly different careers. With the lightest touch and the most tender of comic instincts, Madeleine St John conjures a vanished summer of innocence. The Women in Black is a great novel, a lost Australian classic.


26 April, 2012

About Madeleine St John

Madeleine St John (12 November 1941 – 18 June 2006) was an Australian writer, the first Australian woman to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction (in 1997 for her novel The Essence of the Thing). She wrote four novels. The first one, The Women in Black, published in 1993 and re-released in 2009, is a comedy of manners set in a department store in her native Sydney during the 1950s. The next three are a kind of trilogy based in London's Notting Hill, where she lived. The Essence of the Thing(1997) was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. She was working on a new novel when she died.

Other books by Madeleine St John


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