Valerie Grove

Mayfair Lady

Marriages are Made in Bond Street: True Stories from a 1940s Marriage Bureau

By Penrose Halson

Macmillan 357pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

On Sunday mornings at my grandmother’s house in the 1950s I would read the two women’s magazines she took. A ten-year-old could learn a thing or two from Evelyn Home’s problem page in Woman, but Barbara Cartland’s romantic stories and Godfrey Winn’s sentimental pieces taught me something much more important: how not to write in a style dripping with flowery artifice and goo. So opening this book in 2016 to find it entirely couched in that preposterously dated style was quite a shock. Still, Penrose Halson relates a story worth telling: of how Heather Jenner founded her matchmaking agency in 1939.

Chicago_Dec2016

Donmar Warehouse

Follow Literary Review on Twitter