“A tale of love and morality set in the dark side of the Swinging Sixties.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

Ridley Road is set in the Swinging Sixties, but reveals a much darker side to this era; the rise of anti-Semitic fascism, a subject that hasn’t really been in the public arena.

Vivian moves down to London from Manchester both to find her young man, Jack, with whom she has lost touch. And to escape the sadness of losing her much-loved father.

Finding a job in a hairdresser’s, Vivian also manages to find Jack, but is shocked by what she sees. Jack is embroiled in a Jewish anti-fascist group and is in grave danger. It is very difficult for the two of them to continue their relationship.

I really liked Vivian, shy and naive at first, she grew as the story went on. I was a little perturbed that she took a backseat through the middle of the book when Jack’s story takes over. Jack is not as strong a character on the page as Vivian, but his story is interesting and shocking and that carries him through.

The background of the Sixties is brilliantly evoked. I felt I could see and smell everything that was going on. The hairdresser’s was a masterstroke, a perfect scenario for Vivian to blossom, and the girls that worked there came across really well.

The historical aspect of the book is really interesting and Jo bloom has done her research into the horrible side of Sixties London very well. The rise of the fascists targeting the Jewish community is something that should be more widely known. I am embarrassed to say I kmew nothing about it. So well done Jo Bloom because this book is not just an immensely readable love story, it is also an important document to a troubled time.
****

 

Reviewed by:

Sandra Foy

Added 22nd September 2015

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Sandra Foy