A Vision of Loveliness, By Louise Levene

Like an episode of Mad Men, Louise Levene's winning debut novel brings back to startling life the social fabric and fashion fetishes of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Jane is a war orphan living with her slovenly aunty "Reen" in suburban Norbury.

Determined to "better herself", she makes friends with Suzy, a smart girl about town who introduces her to the delights of Belgravia flats, Hardy Amis frocks, sugar daddies and self-satisfied young men.

But gradually her life as part-time model and full-time man-trapper starts to feel hollow, and the glamorous props which she once craved disappoint.

A bright social satire, Levene's period piece is lit up with funny one-liners and trenchant insights into a restrictive and tightly controlled world.

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