How Was It For You?
Women, Sex, Love and Power in the 1960s
by Virginia Nicholson
Pub Date 28 Mar 2019
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'One of the great social historians of our time. No one else makes makes history this fun' Amanda Foreman
"A feeling that we could do whatever we liked swept through us in the 60s..."
The sexual revolution liberated a generation. But men most of all.
We tend to think of the 60s as a decade sprinkled with stardust: a time of space travel and utopian dreams, but above all of sexual abandonment. When the pill was introduced on the NHS in 1961 it seemed, for the first time, that women - like men - could try without buying.
"It was paradise for men... all these willing girls..."
But this book - by 'one of the great social historians of our time' - describes a turbulent power struggle.
Here are the voices from the battleground. Meet dollybird Mavis, debutante Kristina, Beryl who sang with the Beatles, bunny girl Patsy, Christian student Anthea, industrial campaigner Mary and countercultural Caroline. From Carnaby Street to Merseyside, from mods to rockers, from white gloves to Black is Beautiful, their stories throw an unsparing spotlight on morals, four-letter words, faith, drugs, race, bomb culture and sex.
This is a moving, shocking book about tearing up the world and starting again. It's about peace, love, psychedelia and strange pleasures, but it is also about misogyny, violation and discrimination - half a century before feminism rebranded. For out of the swamp of gropers and groupies, a movement was emerging, and discovering a new cause: equality.
The 1960s: this was where it all began. Women would never be the same again.
'Intimate, immersive, often moving, How Was It For You? subtly but powerfully subverts complacent male assumptions about a legendary decade' David Kynaston
'An absorbing study of an extraordinary age. Beautifully written and intensively researched' Selina Hastings
'Every baby boomer should read this great and wonderfully revelatory book if only to shout, "Ah yes, that's exactly what it was like for me!"' Anne Sebba
'Virginia Nicholson is the outstanding recorder of British lives in the twentieth century... and this account of the 1960s is the most vivid and moving of all her works' Carmen Callil
'Essential reading' Marina Lewycka
'A dazzling kaleidoscope of facts, feelings and observations' Juliet Nicolson
'A hugely ambitious, kaleidoscope of a book' Richard Vinen
'Makes it feel like the Sixties have never been away' Hunter Davies
'I was there, and she's right' Valerie Grove
'Sparklingly readable . . . Having read Nicholson's magisterial and sensuous overview of the decade, I feel I'm floating above the Sixties (a bit like Lucy in the Sky) and looking down on them with a new understanding ' Ysenda Maxtone Graham, The Times
'The stories are terrific' Rosie Boycott, Financial Times
'Sparkling . . . there is a wonderfully diverse range of voices . . . we have a long way to go, but reading this book made me grateful for how far we have come' Daisy Goodwin, The Sunday Times