Somewhere Like This
Panther, London, 1971
The blurb on the back:
All girls together...
Pat Arrowsmith is one of the great figures of post-War British politics, a campaigner for pacifism and feminism whose fierce radical commitment ensured that she was imprisoned on a pretty regular basis. And out of her experiences in gaol came this novel.
Actually, novel is perhaps a slight overstatement - this is really a series of character studies of jailed women and their relationships. And it's a stunning piece of work, thoroughly convincing in its psychological portrayals, devoid of any sense of condescension and burning with a campaigning spirit. The lesbian aspects are authentic, while the screws emerge just as trapped and confused as the lags.
The women-behind-bars genre has produced so much tawdry trash over the decades, that it's a genuine pleasure to say that this one is real class, a book that replaces squalid sensationalism with honest humanity. What it's doing on this site is altogether unclear...
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 4/5