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A prominent figure in TV and the arts in Britain, Joan Bakewell has been a broadcaster for over forty years, a print journalist for over twenty years, and has published her autobiography, The Centre of the Bed. ALL THE NICE GIRLS is her first novel. She was made a Dame in 2008.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 5 March 2009. The journalist and broadcaster at long last turns her hand to fiction with this story set in the Britain of 1942. This is a lovely novel, very evocative of the time, and contains all the ingredients you would expect from a wartime saga - romance, heroism, pain and loss. Actions and consequences will effect those involved now and and future generations. Lets hope there are more novels to come.
Joan Bakewell has led a varied, sometimes breathless life: she has been a teacher, copywriter, studio manager, broadcaster, journalist, the government's Voice of Older People and chair of the theatre company Shared Experience. She has written four radio plays, two novels and an autobiography -- The Centre of The Bed. Now in her 80s, she is still broadcasting. Though it may look as though she is now part of the establishment - a Dame, President of Birkbeck College, a Member of the House of Lords as Baroness Bakewell of Stockport - she's anything but and remains outspoken and courageous. In Stop the Clocks, she muses on all she has lived through, how the world has changed and considers the things and values she will be leaving behind. Stop the Clocks is a book of musings, a look back at what she was given by her family, at the times in which she grew up - ranging from the minutiae of life such as the knowledge of how to darn and how to make a bed properly with hospital corners, to the bigger lessons of politics, of lovers, of betrayal. She talks of the present, of her family, of friends and literature - and talks too of what she will leave behind. This is a thoughtful, moving and spirited book as only could be expected from this extraordinary woman.
Liverpool late 1950s. This is a story of three people: a suppressed mother; a father, projectionist at the local cinema which has seen better days; and their daughter Martha. It is a time of many escapes: Nureyev defects in London; Gagarin escapes the earth's atmosphere to be the first man in space; the Beatles escape the dreariness of Liverpool to seek their fortune in Hamburg. In Britain the drab 50s are giving way to the lively 60s and the young sense it. With shades of Billy Liar, and Absolute Beginners, this novel brilliantly captures that longing for freedom. Sixteen year old Martha is leaving home.
It is 1942 and the war is not going well. As part of the war effort the Ashworth Grammar School for Girls signs up for the Merchant Navy's Ship Adoption Scheme. The headmistress, the lovely, essentially serious Cynthia Maitland, who lost her lover in the First World War, believes the idea will broaden the horizons of her girls, especially Polly and Jen, bright sixth formers eager to live and love despite it all. All is as it should be in the line of duty until Captain Josh Percival and his officers of the SS Treverran visit Ashworth . . . The choices that follow will disrupt all their lives, reverberating even to the next generation, when, decades later, life and love are on the line again.
Built loosely on her much-loved Guardian column - Just 70 - The View from Here is Bakewell's discerning and heartwarming account of life at 70 and beyond. A household name and a popular radio and TV broadcaster, Bakewell is the ideal ambassador for challenging what being 70 can mean for women today. All of life, including the taboos of old age, are here - work, family, love, sex, body and death - written about with humour, warmth, and Bakewell's characteristic verve and intelligence.
The story of Joan Bakewell's life and times spans the Blitz in Manchester, Cambridge during the glittering era of Michael Frayn, Peter Hall, Jonathan Miller et al, London at its most exciting in the swinging sixties and the world of the media and the arts from the 60s to the present. As she reflects on the choices she has made and the influences that shaped her, she confronts painful childhood memories of her mother's behaviour and describes both her affair with Harold Pinter and her two marriages with remarkable honesty. Throughout she uses her own experience to explore the extraordinary change in women's roles during her lifetime. This is no ordinary celebrity autobiography but a memoir that is beautifully written, frank and absorbing, which draws a thought-provoking portrait of Britain in the last 70 years.