Bond Street Story
By: Norman Collins
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: 12/31/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
Charming, nostalgic novel of post-war London set in a glamorous department store.
Bond Street Story brings to life the chaotic glamour, gossip and romance of the elegant Rammell’s department store. This charming, nostalgic glimpse of post-war London follows the hopes, dreams and exploits of a host of memorable characters from the prodigious Bond Street establishment.
Irene, the whimsical shop girl, yearns for the bright lights of the stage; senior floorwalker Mr. Bloot drifts into a disastrous second marriage; Marcia, Rammell’s long-serving model, knows her beauty is waning, and Eric Rammell, the harassed Managing Director, seeks to escape the social life his wife so unremittingly organizes for him. Each of their stories of work, relationships and petty jealousies is skilfully intertwined in this irresistible tale.
First published in 1958, Bond Street Story is a classic novel that still resonates today.
Norman Richard Collins was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, on October 3, 1907. By the time he was nine years old, at the William Ellis School in Hampstead, he displayed a talent for both writing and publishing.
An unmistakable mark of Collins' power of application and creative energy was that he continued to write fiction throughout an active working life. Although never a full-time writer he was a fluent and prolific author with sixteen titles and two plays to his credit between 1934 and 1981. An autographed edition of twelve of his novels was published during the 1960s.
A special thank you to Bloomsbury USA and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Bond Street, really Oxford Street, even so, it was indisputably one of the better stations. Norman Collins delivers THE BOND STREET, a charming, nostalgic novel of post-war London set in a glamorous department store, Rammell's. Rammell’s is famous. It has everything. A London department store. You could be clothed, fed, furnished, kept amused, and ultimately buried entirely by Rammell’s. Provided you are in the right income bracket. Irene Privet, was only seventeen. Still living in the full turmoil of adolescence. Life opened out in front of her down a long corridor of chaos and confusion. She longs for the bright lights of stage. Readers meet a variety of eccentric characters from Rammell’s—each with their connections, loves, hopes and dreams. From young to old and those in between. The family From the owners, retired Sir Harry, and his son Eric with his digestive problems, his wife and son Tony -- to the newest salesgirl Irene, daughter of one of the shop-walkers Mr. Privett. Mr. Bloot, the senior shop-walker falls in love and marries. Tony has a fling with the model Marcia and Eric, in straightening this out, assumes Marcia as his responsibility until she pulls a mink bomb -- and it is Sir Harry who, at the end, takes Marcia off everyone's hands. From life in the fifties— glamour, gossip, romance, intrigue with a cast of charming, and memorable characters. A look at post-war London when life was bustling –from shop girls, typist, cashiers and secretaries who running the show. Broken down in sections with short chapters: Book One: Reluctance of a Female Apprentice Book Two: Love and the Shopwalker Book Three: private Affairs of a Leading Model Book four Case of the Missing Budgies Book Five: Bond Street in Retrospect A timeless classic lighthearted fictional account, reminding us of the days when at one time or other in our younger years, there was always a job at an upscale department store (which we now call a boutique)--always those in charge. You can feel the buzz and nostalgia—Collins brings the characters to life in a simpler time.
About the Author
Norman Richard Collins was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, on October 3, 1907. By the time he was nine years old, at the William Ellis School in Hampstead, he displayed a talent for both writing and publishing. In January 1933, when he was twenty-five, he became assistant managing director in the publishing house run by Victor Gollancz. In 1941 Collins was forced to move to the BBC due to increasingly poor relationship with Gollancz, who resented Collins' talent and saw him as a rival. During this time he became known for his innovative programming which included Woman's Hour, which still airs today on BBC Radio Four. He rose to Controller of the BBC Television Service, later leaving to co-found what is now ITV after deciding a competitor to the BBC's monopoly was needed.
Alongside his busy career, Collins wrote fourteen novels and one work of non-fiction in his lifetime, most of which were popular successes, published begrudgingly by Gollancz. Collins also became well known for his innovative programming at the British Broadcasting Corporation during the late 1940s, and later for advocating and leading the movement toward commercial television broadcasting in Great Britain.
An unmistakable mark of Collins' power of application and creative energy was that he continued to write fiction throughout such an active working life. Although never a full-time writer he was a fluent and prolific author with sixteen titles and two plays to his credit between 1934 and 1981. An autographed edition of twelve of his novels was published during the 1960s.