Against the Odds

Front Cover
Shirley Lancaster
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£12.99, US$ 20.99, €18.60
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About The Author

Shirley Lancaster and her sister, Carole, were eight and seven respectively, in the 1940s when their wayward seafaring father abandoned them, leaving them homeless and practically destitute. Living like nomads for the following few years, their mother constantly looking for somewhere to live after a hard day’s work, this book presents a vivid picture of working class life in Essex in the immediate post-War period.

Eventually the family moved into one room of their maternal grandmother, but life was never easy. Whilst the younger sibling suffered badly and withdrew into herself, Shirley put her own spin on life and embarked on a series of adventures and misadventures with the law and society as described in this vivid and moving book.

About The Book

This candid and vividly written autobiography of an Essex working class girl in the immediate post-War period, together with its description of her family background, presents a valuable social history of the milieu and private life in which she was nurtured.

The deprivation and poverty of the 1930s was carried through to the 1950s – and of course was exacerbated by the struggle and misfortunes of the Second World War. As this book shows clearly, lack of money or proper housing is deterministic for good or ill in influencing human behaviour and relationships, and it therefore follows that measuring blame for consequent wrongdoing is difficult to determine.

Shirley comes through as a girl of spirit and independence, who is not easily going to be crushed by adversity, or injustice at the hands of others. Her response of rebelliousness is commendable in the face of difficulties with which she is confronted, but when she then becomes involved with the Teddy Boy culture of the time, and then with the worst element of the sordid back street life of the East End, she pulls herself back from the brink just in time.

Her description of pimps with all their devious ingenuity, and the filth and grime of an East End brothel and its inmates, is horrific and unforgettable, and places this book as a unique document of social history. Together with her own efforts, in conjunction with the Courts system and the welfare authorities of the time, she finally pulls herself through towards a new and better life. This book, written in its distinctively idiosyncratic style, makes a gripping read.