Friday, May 17, 2019

Books from the past


I was talking to a friend the other day about reading, and happened to mention that one of the things I liked about romance when I was a teenager was that they were quite empowering books. She went silent (as in, I can't believe you read romance!) so I proceeded to tell her what I meant, specifically that there's a lot more to it than the romance. There are other things at play here, such as overcoming past difficulties, challenges with the family, things that lead into the conflict that will rear its head between the protagonists and get in the way of the Happy Ever After.... So much more.
But enough of that, and on to these so-called empowering books of mine.
A lot of these novels revolved around careers, hence the empowerment thing of being independent, following your dreams, moving out of home, getting a flat, managing your finances and paying your bills, and all that grown-up stuff.
One of the series I adored as a girl were the Sue Barton books.
They followed the young Sue Barton through her student nursing days, progressing up the career ladder in nursing, getting married and having a family. I liked the whole notion of them, of the camaraderie of the nursing schools, and all that. They were great books, a great series.
Then there were the career novels such as Janet Carr Journalist, and Jill Kennedy Telephonist. They
were English, and being a Kiwi, one had plans to travel to England but one I never actually did. (I am still waiting for that experience.)
Clearly these stories are from a time when the 'telephonist' was a career option. Nowadays, who would know what one even is? Was it even such a great job? Well, it was for Jill Kennedy, I suppose, but I'd have to dig out my copy (yes, I am 99% 50% sure I still have it in a box somewhere) to find out about it all. Of course, the journalist thing, as in Janet Carr Journalist, well, that appealed hugely because I loved reading magazines that had sailed all the way over to New Zealand from England, and of course there was Fleet Street, the place to go and be a journalist. I probably set my sights a bit closer to home in Wellington, where they published the Dominion and the Evening Post newspapers, but like my trip to England, that never eventuated either.
And neither, it must be said, did a career in nursing.
I think I'll dig these books out and see what they're like now. I could read them on the bus to work. What a hoot, a middle-aged chook reading Sue Barton on the bus. Yes, I am totally up for that.
~ Joanne


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