web site hit counter Women's Barracks - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Women's Barracks

Availability: Ready to download

Originally published in 1950, this account of life among female Free French soldiers in a London barracks during World War II sold four million copies in the United States alone and many more millions worldwide. The novel is based on the real-life experiences of the author, Tereska Torres, who escaped from occupied France. She arrived as a refugee in London and joined other Originally published in 1950, this account of life among female Free French soldiers in a London barracks during World War II sold four million copies in the United States alone and many more millions worldwide. The novel is based on the real-life experiences of the author, Tereska Torres, who escaped from occupied France. She arrived as a refugee in London and joined other exiles enlisting in Charles de Gaulle’s army, then stationed in Britain awaiting an invasion of their homeland by Allied forces. But Women’s Barracks is no ordinary war story. As the Blitz rains down over London, taboos are broken, affairs start and stop and hearts are won and lost. Women’s Barracks was banned for obscenity in several states. It was also denounced by the House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials in 1952 as an example of how the paperback industry was “promoting moral degeneracy.” But in spite of such efforts—or perhaps, in part, because of them—the novel became a record-breaking bestseller and inspired a whole new genre: lesbian pulp. From the obituary in the New York Times: Tereska Torrès, 92, Writer Of Lesbian Fiction, Dies Tereska Torrès, a convent-educated French writer who quite by accident wrote America’s first lesbian pulp novel, died on Thursday at her home in Paris. She was 92… …It was not homophobia that caused Ms. Torrès to find her book’s canonical status peculiar. Quite the contrary, she said: because affairs with barracks mates were so much a part of ordinary wartime experience the hoopla seemed simply prurient. “The book spoke very delicately about the few matters of sexual encounters,” Ms. Torrès told Salon.com in 2005. “But so what? I hadn’t invented anything — that’s the way women lived during the war in London.” She added: “I thought I had written a very innocent book. I thought, these Americans, they are easily shocked.” Femmes Fatales restores to print the best of women’s writing in the classic pulp genres of the mid-20th century. From mystery to hard-boiled noir to taboo lesbian romance, these rediscovered queens of pulp offer subversive perspectives on a turbulent era. Enjoy the series: Bedelia; The Blackbirder; Bunny Lake Is Missing; By Cecile; The G-String Murders; The Girls in 3-B; In a Lonely Place; Laura; Mother Finds a Body; Now, Voyager; Skyscraper; Stranger on Lesbos; Women's Barracks.


Compare

Originally published in 1950, this account of life among female Free French soldiers in a London barracks during World War II sold four million copies in the United States alone and many more millions worldwide. The novel is based on the real-life experiences of the author, Tereska Torres, who escaped from occupied France. She arrived as a refugee in London and joined other Originally published in 1950, this account of life among female Free French soldiers in a London barracks during World War II sold four million copies in the United States alone and many more millions worldwide. The novel is based on the real-life experiences of the author, Tereska Torres, who escaped from occupied France. She arrived as a refugee in London and joined other exiles enlisting in Charles de Gaulle’s army, then stationed in Britain awaiting an invasion of their homeland by Allied forces. But Women’s Barracks is no ordinary war story. As the Blitz rains down over London, taboos are broken, affairs start and stop and hearts are won and lost. Women’s Barracks was banned for obscenity in several states. It was also denounced by the House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials in 1952 as an example of how the paperback industry was “promoting moral degeneracy.” But in spite of such efforts—or perhaps, in part, because of them—the novel became a record-breaking bestseller and inspired a whole new genre: lesbian pulp. From the obituary in the New York Times: Tereska Torrès, 92, Writer Of Lesbian Fiction, Dies Tereska Torrès, a convent-educated French writer who quite by accident wrote America’s first lesbian pulp novel, died on Thursday at her home in Paris. She was 92… …It was not homophobia that caused Ms. Torrès to find her book’s canonical status peculiar. Quite the contrary, she said: because affairs with barracks mates were so much a part of ordinary wartime experience the hoopla seemed simply prurient. “The book spoke very delicately about the few matters of sexual encounters,” Ms. Torrès told Salon.com in 2005. “But so what? I hadn’t invented anything — that’s the way women lived during the war in London.” She added: “I thought I had written a very innocent book. I thought, these Americans, they are easily shocked.” Femmes Fatales restores to print the best of women’s writing in the classic pulp genres of the mid-20th century. From mystery to hard-boiled noir to taboo lesbian romance, these rediscovered queens of pulp offer subversive perspectives on a turbulent era. Enjoy the series: Bedelia; The Blackbirder; Bunny Lake Is Missing; By Cecile; The G-String Murders; The Girls in 3-B; In a Lonely Place; Laura; Mother Finds a Body; Now, Voyager; Skyscraper; Stranger on Lesbos; Women's Barracks.

30 review for Women's Barracks

  1. 5 out of 5

    Corrie

    Women's Barracks is the story of 5 young women who have escaped occupied France to join the Free French Army in London. Author Tereska Torrès gives a personal account of the daily lives of this diverse group of women as they live in the barracks on Down Street. It is very much a product of its time and when it was published in the early 50ies it became quite the sensation. The modern reader will not bat an eye at what then was considered ‘shocking and immoral’, so don’t read it hoping for explici Women's Barracks is the story of 5 young women who have escaped occupied France to join the Free French Army in London. Author Tereska Torrès gives a personal account of the daily lives of this diverse group of women as they live in the barracks on Down Street. It is very much a product of its time and when it was published in the early 50ies it became quite the sensation. The modern reader will not bat an eye at what then was considered ‘shocking and immoral’, so don’t read it hoping for explicit scenes. What I liked about it was the historical setting. How the French refugee women coped with life in war time London. The style of the book is heavy on the tell part. Maybe it’s because Torrès kept a diary (although she said she didn’t need it for reference because if was still fresh in her mind when she wrote it) but the narration felt somewhat disconnected. When I say it was a product of its time I meant that lesbian women were still seen as unnatural freaks and to be pitied. I felt that the (straight) author sounded somewhat preachy at times. But in the back of the book was an interview from 2004 where it becomes apparent that the only way Torrès could get her book published at that time was if her narrative was changed up a bit. ”They were extremely worried about lawsuits over immorality and they felt it would make the book more “serious” if a girl soldier would have a sort of look at what goes on in a more moral vein. She would say, “Oh, I’m sorry. This is so bad. And this is so sad.” And, of course, I didn’t approve of this but Meyer wrote to me from New York to ask if I would mind if he added some narrative lines here and there to satisfy the publisher. And since he told me exactly how he would do it and since it really did not change the story, I said he could go ahead with it.” She feels uncomfortable with the changes. ” I didn’t moralize at all. Today, I think the narrator is so untrue. She is supposed to be me and even her biography is not mine. She says she comes from a very bourgeois background; my family was a family of Polish Jewish artists who converted to Catholicism before I was born. And I was not allowed to tell my Jewish grandparents in Poland that I was a Catholic.” Also her original manuscript was written in French and her husband (Meyer) wrote the English translation and started shopping it around in America while she was living in Paris. Even though the translation is literal and still true to the story I feel it suffered because of it. f/f, m/f Themes: World War II, London, the Blitz, French refugees, The Gaulle’s Army, boredom, sexual affairs, pregnancy, lesbian pulp. 4 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lexxi Kitty

    This was a difficult book to read. And not because of writing style or writing ability. Nor because it was among the first lesbian books put out. A "based on true events" one at that. No, the problem was both the distanced nature of the narration, and the subject matter. As in, the book was narrated from the point of view of the writer. Who was both a character in the book, and someone who knew what ultimately happened to everyone. As a character, she was off to the edge, mostly, reporting on the This was a difficult book to read. And not because of writing style or writing ability. Nor because it was among the first lesbian books put out. A "based on true events" one at that. No, the problem was both the distanced nature of the narration, and the subject matter. As in, the book was narrated from the point of view of the writer. Who was both a character in the book, and someone who knew what ultimately happened to everyone. As a character, she was off to the edge, mostly, reporting on the actions of the others. And the subject matter problem? Well . . . one of the early attacks on homosexual activity involves trying to link it to pedophiles. And that, pedophiles, plays a rather large role in the book. Much more so than lesbianism. War erupts. Many French women escape to England, but wish to help, so they join the army, or whatever the military organization was called. A woman of 34, one of the French woman exiles, uses her advanced experience and alluring nature to attract a 16 old girl into her bed. And molests her. The girl doesn't particularly like it but kept repeating to herself "I adore her." Two other bits of evidence later emerges. Claude, the woman of 34, in the past, had also done the same thing with a young boy. And Claude's attraction to Ursula (the 16 year old) abruptly ends when she realizes that Ursula is no longer a little girl but is now a woman. Hmm. I was writing this off of notes I had made. Later I call Claude the 40 year old pedophile. Ok, so the older woman is somewhere between 34 and 40. As I said at the beginning, a difficult book for me to read, mostly read because of its place in the history of lesbian books. I should probably note, I suppose, that the author/narrator was not a lesbian herself. Which may have clouded her judgement of the activities she was witnessing. There were lesbians in the book, and the narrator had a more narrow-minded view of them, despite those lesbians actually involving adult women in adult relationships.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    This book was hailed as the "first lesbian pulp" published in 1950 and selling over 4 million copies, but it is so much more than that. The other "lesbian pulps" I've read have all been by American lesbian authors. This was much more of a continuation of the French literary tradition of just writing about women and their relationships, regardless of gender. The book followed the lives of five French women serving in the armed forces in London during WWII. It was an amazing story. The contrast be This book was hailed as the "first lesbian pulp" published in 1950 and selling over 4 million copies, but it is so much more than that. The other "lesbian pulps" I've read have all been by American lesbian authors. This was much more of a continuation of the French literary tradition of just writing about women and their relationships, regardless of gender. The book followed the lives of five French women serving in the armed forces in London during WWII. It was an amazing story. The contrast between the bombs dropping, being in a foreign country, the feeling of the hopelessness of war and the way that affected their relationships and friendships was just fascinating. The women were straight, bi-sexual and lesbians. Despite (at the instance of the American publishers the inclusion of how sad it was to be a lesbian) it was just a wonderfully honest look at the different types of women, all seemed accepted and you just had this feeling that this is how women were. It was simply wonderful. Unlike the later American pulps, none of the lesbians (or bi women) died, went insane or turned straight! It was an interesting and honest look at relationships. The lesbians weren't judged over their need for relationships with women anymore than the straight women were over their need for relationships with men. It reminded me a lot of Collette, and I wasn't surprised to see that the author had been reading Collette just before writing this and that she later went on to write her own novel about Collette and her romances with women. (Which has been translated into English and I shall definitely have to find a copy). It was a lovely book. Character driven and tragic. The parts towards the end when they all get filled with the hope for the future after the end of the war were particularly sad. This is really what I wanted Night watch to be and it wasn't. I can’t stop babbling about how much I loved this I really do want to find other things by this author, and to read her diaries that were published in French. (Oh to have my French just a little better!) Definitely one I'd recommend.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Reggie Martell

    I just finished this wonderfully odd book, but it was only after reading the reviews on this page that I learned it was some kind of lesbian genre fiction. I wont challenge that designation but it does feel like publisher marketing grafted onto a novel that defies generalized characterization. The book doesn't convey the impression that Tereska Torres set out to write a piece of genre fiction. The story follows its characters through extraordinary circumstances. The war has placed them together, I just finished this wonderfully odd book, but it was only after reading the reviews on this page that I learned it was some kind of lesbian genre fiction. I wont challenge that designation but it does feel like publisher marketing grafted onto a novel that defies generalized characterization. The book doesn't convey the impression that Tereska Torres set out to write a piece of genre fiction. The story follows its characters through extraordinary circumstances. The war has placed them together, at different points in their lives, but largely in search of the same thing. Indeed they seek the answer to life, the universe and the meaning of everything, but they also seek love and companionship. Safety. Physical and mental comfort. They seek to fill their needs with and from each other. The relationship develop naturally, in way simultaneously novel yet easily understood. At times it takes on a pulpy air, but for every instance of seeming male, or lesbian wish fulfillment (with descriptions of perky breasts) there are passages of biting, visceral critique, reminiscent of Trumbo or Elie Wiesel. It is a book almost wholly void of political discourse, yet the consequence of those machinations, existing just off the page, are felt, perhaps just as they were felt by Torres, in the barracks. The war was fought and the war was won, but the cost is indeed terrible. It is an imperfect book, but it's easy to understand why it continues to be read into the second decade of the twenty first century. It is a book that contains insight and truth about war, human sexuality and the unchanging needs of people. There is depth and ambiguity. And there is honesty. A book such as this will always have have worth.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    I'm impressed by this book from the historical standpoint-- it depicts an unguarded portrayal of the women in the French Freedom movement in World War 2. Although it mostly focuses on their love affairs and not the war, it gives interesting insight to morality of the time period (particularly when you read about changes made to the manuscript for American audiences.) I'm impressed by this book from the historical standpoint-- it depicts an unguarded portrayal of the women in the French Freedom movement in World War 2. Although it mostly focuses on their love affairs and not the war, it gives interesting insight to morality of the time period (particularly when you read about changes made to the manuscript for American audiences.)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Women's Barracks was written in 1950 and is a diary of sorts by French author, Tereska Torrès, describing the lives of French women who escaped to England on the German invasion of France and who joined the Free French forces. The group lived in a barracks in London. The story describes their lives and relationships of the women, including love affairs, lesbian relationships, etc. Now having provided this brief synopsis, I have to say that the stories are gently told and not at all graphic or ti Women's Barracks was written in 1950 and is a diary of sorts by French author, Tereska Torrès, describing the lives of French women who escaped to England on the German invasion of France and who joined the Free French forces. The group lived in a barracks in London. The story describes their lives and relationships of the women, including love affairs, lesbian relationships, etc. Now having provided this brief synopsis, I have to say that the stories are gently told and not at all graphic or titillating. Torres was one of the girls who formed part of the group and she talks about the others' lives. It covers the period from the invasion of France until the D-Day invasion when the group was basically disbanded and many returned to France to continue to help the war effort. It's an interesting story. The women cover the gamut, from young inexperienced girls to older, more experienced (both in life and sexually) women. We follow a number of them as the experience the war; young, inexperienced Ursula who falls under the influence of more experienced, worldly Claude, a women who moves from man to woman all the while still in love with her husband. There is Ann, a tough, independent individual, who quickly advances up the rank. There is glamorous Jacqueline who suffers from a back injury and falls for a French Captain who loves her but wants to remain faithful to his wife back in France. It's a varied, interesting group of women that Torres grows close to during the war. War is always in the background; the bombing of London, the troops waiting for an invasion and biding their time in London and around England. It's a rich, interesting story. Torres is credited with writing the first pulp dealing with lesbian issues. The House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials identified it as an example of books promoting moral degeneracy but I didn't find that at all. It's a book about relationships and worth checking out. (4 stars)

  7. 5 out of 5

    John Defrog

    Credited as the book that launched the lesbian pulp-fiction genre in America, this is a fictionalized account of the author’s time in the Free French Forces in London in WW2. It’s a bit soap opera-ish for my taste, and the "pornographic" sex scenes are of course pretty tame by modern standards. Still, it’s more evidence that “pulp” doesn’t mean “bad writing”, and that even in 1950, you could find a book where lesbians were portrayed as human beings with emotions rather than psychotic man-hating Credited as the book that launched the lesbian pulp-fiction genre in America, this is a fictionalized account of the author’s time in the Free French Forces in London in WW2. It’s a bit soap opera-ish for my taste, and the "pornographic" sex scenes are of course pretty tame by modern standards. Still, it’s more evidence that “pulp” doesn’t mean “bad writing”, and that even in 1950, you could find a book where lesbians were portrayed as human beings with emotions rather than psychotic man-hating sex fiends.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Women's Barracks... yeah, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I read this and honestly, I was embarrassed to check it out of the library because of the lurid, cheesy cover. I was curious because I like to study lesbian history and I read this kind of stuff with an analytic and evaluating mind. This books is a reprint of 1950's pulp fiction, and in this case, it's an actual true story french novel. I knew that back in the 50's LGBT people had to live deeply in the closet and so if you were gay Women's Barracks... yeah, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I read this and honestly, I was embarrassed to check it out of the library because of the lurid, cheesy cover. I was curious because I like to study lesbian history and I read this kind of stuff with an analytic and evaluating mind. This books is a reprint of 1950's pulp fiction, and in this case, it's an actual true story french novel. I knew that back in the 50's LGBT people had to live deeply in the closet and so if you were gay or lesbian, it was difficult to even know if there were others like you. Lesbianism wasn't talked or written about openly, and apparently the only sources telling of its existence at that time were these kind of cheap pulp fiction novels. I was curious what they were like, and wondered if they had any literary value besides cheap entertainment. In retrospect, this book probably appealed to the prurient interest, or at least the readers' prurient fantasies, though it isn't even on a soft porn level. But in the 50's, it was probably shocking. So this book is supposed to have a "lesbian theme." When I finished it, I really disagreed with that statement, because even though there actually are 3 lesbian characters, they are not the main characters at all. The book is narrated by Tereska Torres, who was stationed with many other women of the French Free Forces in England in the women's barracks. Most of the action in this book consists of who these women sleep with because hooking up with other soldiers is all they are interested in. Apparently Tereska was a great listener, because she knows lots of detail about the other women, even as she narrates scenes in which she was not present at all. She talks about the inner thoughts and feelings of her comrades with more knowledge than is usually possible. Mostly she talks about poor little Ursula, who lied about her age to sign up for the Free French Forces, (which were similar to our WACS), who matures and becomes a woman by finally being brave enough to have sex with a man. Ursula had sex with one of the women at first, but then felt guilty, yet was struck with a huge crush on that woman who proceeded to totally ignore her. Thankfully the author says that woman wasn't even a real lesbian, because she slept with men just as easily. I was somewhat relieved about that, because if this character had been the lesbian example, that would have cast lesbians in a really inaccurate and bad light. The real lesbians in this book deal with the usual lesbian relationship intrigues. Interestingly, the narrator sees them dealing with the same problems the straight women encounter - seeking true love. Not everything she mentions about them is judgmental. None of the lesbians in this book go crazy, or kill themselves, which is what I had heard always happened to them in pulp fiction. But the narrator does pass some severe judgment on them, that they are lonely, sad, unsatisfied, never smile, and the that only male company they keep is that of "pederasts". (Pederasts are men who have homosexual relationships with young boys.) She describes one of the older lesbian officers in unflattering words as having the air of a "little old man." And she judges the two younger lesbians' relationship as unsatisfying because one of them is apparently so frustrated because she just can't make the other one pregnant. These two then proceed to have a threesome with her brother (yes, so realistic) and when he fails to get her girlfriend pregnant, they drift apart. Alas. So basically, here we have see some severe judgment of lesbian relationships: they must be unsatisfying because they can't get each other pregnant. This isn't the main story of the book, but probably the most saliva-producing for the uptight 1950's reader. Apparently, even though the straight women were quite liberated and made the independent choice to join the army and serve their country, they could only become "real women" once they had sex with men. This is the case not only for pathetic little Ursula but also for fun loving, easy going, confident Mickey. Mostly the book is about their sexual relationships and how they try to get married. I found this message ridiculous and reading about their efforts boring, but, like I said, my primary goal was to evaluate how lesbians are portrayed in pulp fiction. The book has some redeeming value because it is anti-war. In the end, it is pretty sad when certain characters die. Ursula's boyfriend in particular was a deep thinker and had great ideas about how life could be better after the war. Also, he was a Polish Jew, so at least this book was not anti-semitic, just misogynistic and homophobic. Three stars, because it is probably has value as a literary marker and sign of the time. Its messages are questionable but exactly what you wold expect.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Keren

    The thing that struck me most about Women’s Barracks was how modern and dated it felt in equal measure. Modern in the sense that the setting, as the title suggests, exists away from the influence of men (all fighting in the war), a device that chick-lit has done to death in recent times eg. Sex and the City. Yet any hint of modern day sensibilities come crashing down with outmoded language. At times, comically to the modern reader, “gay” is used to mean “happy” but understandably stands out as a The thing that struck me most about Women’s Barracks was how modern and dated it felt in equal measure. Modern in the sense that the setting, as the title suggests, exists away from the influence of men (all fighting in the war), a device that chick-lit has done to death in recent times eg. Sex and the City. Yet any hint of modern day sensibilities come crashing down with outmoded language. At times, comically to the modern reader, “gay” is used to mean “happy” but understandably stands out as an example of how language has changed. More jarring was the liberal use of “invert” as a descriptive term for lesbianism in the narrators more judgemental moments (this is explained by an interview with the author Torres. She clarifies that these lines were requested in the English translation as an attempt to appease any moral outrage that might arise from a book all about lesbians – Torres herself says she never held such disapproving views.) While this 1950 book is undoubtedly ground breaking and laid the foundation for the pulp fiction that was to come it’s incredible how, from a modern point of view, the narrative conforms to the status quo. For example the main characters are heterosexual with bisexual sensibilities. The self-identifying lesbian in the novel are side players. I felt the love triangle between Ann, Petite and Lee could have been more at the forefront of the story, yet isn’t. This is perhaps a sign that this idea was to boundary pushing even in a novel that tested perception of lesbianism? Interestingly the heterosexual relationships within the story are played out in traditional fashion of this time, namely actions outside of the traditional are punished in some way. In other words pre-marital sex leads death, grief, suicides or unwanted pregnancies. The equilibrium is always restored. Putting aside all these criticisms the book was written in 1950 where a sexual revolution was but a futuristic event. This novel should very much be read in that context, for that you should definitely read the foreword and afterword if you are reading the FEMME FATALES edition. While I enjoyed the book, it was certainly far from perfect. That being said I will be seeking out more from the pulp genre.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This was a surprisingly good read. Naturally, I was attracted by the title and the cover, but how was I to know that the story would be good as well? Lesbian pulp is usually one of those things that you skim to the juicy parts and then stop reading because the lesbian usually dies in the end. This book is different. It has some very realistic depictions of all of the main characters, who are all very different. I especially liked the conversation that the narrator has with Ann (the Lesbian) and This was a surprisingly good read. Naturally, I was attracted by the title and the cover, but how was I to know that the story would be good as well? Lesbian pulp is usually one of those things that you skim to the juicy parts and then stop reading because the lesbian usually dies in the end. This book is different. It has some very realistic depictions of all of the main characters, who are all very different. I especially liked the conversation that the narrator has with Ann (the Lesbian) and the differences between women who are lesbians and those who sleep with women occasionally but do not consider themselves lebians. The book doesn't center completely around this idea of sexual identity, there is also a very strong story of the question of war. Most of the characters in the book are convinced that the end of World War II will put an end to war altogether. As the book ends, the optimism they have of post-WWII Europe has begun to wane.[return][return]Women's Barracks was the first lesbian themed pulp to hit the US. It was published in 1950. It was also the first pulp fiction that made it big. It sold over 2 million copies in the first 5 years. Wow.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nightwitch

    This book surprised me: rather than being some sort of scandalous, poorly-written lesbian pulp novel, it's very much a product of the "thinly fictionalized account of women's lives and sexual experiences during World War II" genre. I'm thinking, for example, of Mary Wesley's Camomile Lawn, which caused such a scandal when she published it - World War II is, after all, the "grandparent generation" for many of us, and the idea of people screwing like bunnies during wartime isn't really congruent w This book surprised me: rather than being some sort of scandalous, poorly-written lesbian pulp novel, it's very much a product of the "thinly fictionalized account of women's lives and sexual experiences during World War II" genre. I'm thinking, for example, of Mary Wesley's Camomile Lawn, which caused such a scandal when she published it - World War II is, after all, the "grandparent generation" for many of us, and the idea of people screwing like bunnies during wartime isn't really congruent with that. This one, however, came out very shortly after the war, and included some detailed lesbian (and bisexual) affairs, as well as unwed pregnancies, illegitimate children, etc. The writing is actually pretty good - it's a very readable book rather than "great literature," but it's nowhere near as awkward as e.g. The Camomile Lawn. At the insistence of the American publishers, there was a bunch of moralizing thrown in about lesbianism and promiscuity, which bumped this down a star for me, but over all, a really fun read, albeit not what I was expecting.

  12. 4 out of 5

    LVLMLeah

    I know this book is representative of retro lesbian fiction and I'm sure it was something for the time it came out and had its market, but classic with historical value doesn't always translate to well written. I did listen to the whole book, but I found many of the characters tedious in who they are and the writing style was very disconnected. The narrator is a person telling a story years later after knowing all the events after the fact. However, in the telling, she rambles from one character I know this book is representative of retro lesbian fiction and I'm sure it was something for the time it came out and had its market, but classic with historical value doesn't always translate to well written. I did listen to the whole book, but I found many of the characters tedious in who they are and the writing style was very disconnected. The narrator is a person telling a story years later after knowing all the events after the fact. However, in the telling, she rambles from one character to another with no clear focus and I found it both boring and distracting. As far as any lesbian content, it's very vague really. Some of the characters exhibit certain tendencies, however, it's kept rather vague. I can see how a lesbian reading this at original publication time would have loved it or identified. Still though, it was interesting on the level of getting a glimpse into a certain time period in history and how women got along in it during war.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emily Crow

    I read this as a literary novelty...a book so scandalous for its day that it was banned in several states as being pornographic. And one of the the first examples of "lesbian pulp." It is the story of several women in the Free French Army in London during WWII and their mostly amorous adventures--gay, bisexual and straight. I wouldn't call it a riveting read, or in any way shocking by today's standards, but it turned out to be an interesting look at these women's lives. I appreciated the inclusi I read this as a literary novelty...a book so scandalous for its day that it was banned in several states as being pornographic. And one of the the first examples of "lesbian pulp." It is the story of several women in the Free French Army in London during WWII and their mostly amorous adventures--gay, bisexual and straight. I wouldn't call it a riveting read, or in any way shocking by today's standards, but it turned out to be an interesting look at these women's lives. I appreciated the inclusion of the interview at the end, in which the author stated that she didn't intend the book to have such a judgmental overtone; that was something added in the translation to try to appease the censors. By the way, that cover is priceless! If only the book had lived up to it....

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Anyone that reads lesbian pulp fiction will know and be pretty bored of the over the top dramatic endings forced on stories that were otherwise very entertaining. Due to censorship laws at the time no LGBT person was allowed to "live happily ever after" hence the plethora of bad endings to good stories (or, less often, some interesting cliff hangers) Women's Barracks is a highly entertaining break from that. It's just honest. Honest and funny and sweet and heart breaking all at once. As if you n Anyone that reads lesbian pulp fiction will know and be pretty bored of the over the top dramatic endings forced on stories that were otherwise very entertaining. Due to censorship laws at the time no LGBT person was allowed to "live happily ever after" hence the plethora of bad endings to good stories (or, less often, some interesting cliff hangers) Women's Barracks is a highly entertaining break from that. It's just honest. Honest and funny and sweet and heart breaking all at once. As if you need any more incentive just read it so you can be seen reading it in public. It's a damned shame book covers aren't so sassy anymore.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    1950's pulp fiction is so much fun, particularly given that what passes for racy or titillating for the time doesn't seem all that risque today. Although it's called a novel, it's actually more of a reworked memoir, as the author is the named narrator in the book and it is based on a diary she kept while living in a barracks during WWII. The characters and drama are quite interesting, though the over-all narrative thread is not as satisfying as what I would expect from an actual novel. Still, th 1950's pulp fiction is so much fun, particularly given that what passes for racy or titillating for the time doesn't seem all that risque today. Although it's called a novel, it's actually more of a reworked memoir, as the author is the named narrator in the book and it is based on a diary she kept while living in a barracks during WWII. The characters and drama are quite interesting, though the over-all narrative thread is not as satisfying as what I would expect from an actual novel. Still, the book is quite entertaining on the whole and well worth reading.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laudys

    This book was way better than I expected (mainly because, you know, it has a cheesy cover with salacious promises of lesbian pulp fiction), but it actually was a very heart wrenching book about a group of women stuck together and how they get together and fall apart. I loved the characters, I felt for them, specially Ursula, and her lowest moments brought tears to my eyes. It's like a little window into the past. This book was way better than I expected (mainly because, you know, it has a cheesy cover with salacious promises of lesbian pulp fiction), but it actually was a very heart wrenching book about a group of women stuck together and how they get together and fall apart. I loved the characters, I felt for them, specially Ursula, and her lowest moments brought tears to my eyes. It's like a little window into the past.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tyrannosaurus regina

    I was prepared to place this in historical context to appreciate it, but it turned out to be a solid story all on its own. Of course, the fates of some of the women were decreed by contemporary morality when it came to literature, but the interview with the author that was included in this edition addressed that, among other things. It was much more well-rounded, and tender, than I was expecting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rad Baker

    This book gave me a whole range of different feelings. I picked this book up with a number of expectations, most of which were shot down. I believed this to be a self-indulgent book about lesbian antics in the Free France forces, that had very little sensibility and was mostly a pulp novel that would be easy to finish. For my first expectation, we read the narrator's name just ONCE in the entirety of the book: this is indicative of how this is NOT the narrator's story, but how she gives voice to This book gave me a whole range of different feelings. I picked this book up with a number of expectations, most of which were shot down. I believed this to be a self-indulgent book about lesbian antics in the Free France forces, that had very little sensibility and was mostly a pulp novel that would be easy to finish. For my first expectation, we read the narrator's name just ONCE in the entirety of the book: this is indicative of how this is NOT the narrator's story, but how she gives voice to the women she is writing about instead. For the 'lesbian antics' element, I was again misled by prejudices. There are very few characters in this novel who are lesbian, and more who are experimental/bisexual. The 'sad' lesbians in this book are given a very pale, melancholic light, and are mostly looked upon with pity (in reading an interview with the author, she explained that one agreement for publishing the book was that the editor added in these numerous pitying sentences and observations, because otherwise, the book would have been too 'immoral' for Americans at the time to handle). I was also very surprised by the elements of care and thought that went into this book. There was a lot of pensive, careful ideas that were touched upon in this book - they could have been touched on a lot more, but that was not the point of this book. This book was meant to make everybody see that women are beings of their own and that they can question the morality of war without needing men to tell them how to do it. Whilst this is the case, the varying levels of success are hard to gauge. Every single character in this novel is led and influenced by at least one man (and in some circumstances, to fatal results), which roughly challenges the idea of female autonomy that this book was striving for. Indeed, the first words of the introduction to this books are 'My husband tells me I ought to write my memoirs...'. Who was she writing this for? Seeing as this novel is based on the diaries that she wrote during the war before she was married or attached to any man, one can argue that they were purely for her. Another argument would say otherwise. I suppose the crux of the matter is, this book is the 1940s 'Well of Loneliness'. It considered the same issues of women in wartime and beyond, and even faced the same prejudices and difficulties that Radclyffe Hall faced: lawsuits and bans, and cries of 'immorality, filth, and perversion.' One can only admire the steps that were taken in that leap of time: it wasn't very much, but baby steps can make miles. If anything, this book is an interesting read for the historical context. It was an insight into French female forces in London that I wasn't aware of. Whilst it isn't entirely encouraging feminist literature, it comes a long way from what there was on offer and should be read to help form a timeline of the lesbian literature we can find out there.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    I actually own a physical copy of this book! It's from 1951! I've been too afraid to read it, though, since it's fragile. But the other week I was surprised and delighted to see this as one of the available titles on a local library's ebook resource. I had to check it out at once. I'm glad I ended up reading the ebook, because there's an interview with the author at the end which was quite interesting. I was gratified to learn that the American publishers had made her give the narrator a judgment I actually own a physical copy of this book! It's from 1951! I've been too afraid to read it, though, since it's fragile. But the other week I was surprised and delighted to see this as one of the available titles on a local library's ebook resource. I had to check it out at once. I'm glad I ended up reading the ebook, because there's an interview with the author at the end which was quite interesting. I was gratified to learn that the American publishers had made her give the narrator a judgmental tone when it came to... well, I think it was only for the lesbianism. Which was portrayed much as one would expect from this era. This is considered the first lesbian pulp, after all. Though the topic certainly doesn't take front seat. Much like the only other lesbian pulp I've read, The Girls in 3-B, there was plenty of tiresome heterosexuality, as well. Though Women's Barracks had a handful of bi and lesbian characters, it was kind of a quantity-not-quality situation The Girls in 3-B showed its lesbian relationship in a much more positive light. Tereska Torrès mentions in the interview at the end that her actual war diaries had been published... but only in France. I'd love to read them, mais je lis seulement un peu français. Sigh.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    The foundational lesbian pulp in America. Fascinating. Tereska Torres seems to have some complex feelings about it and that it was received as such scandalous material instead of as a war memoir. However: as written, it is pretty scandalous! There’s some interesting love and sex shapes described in there! I loved it and found it moving in a number of ways—gay ways, war ways, Jewish ways, women’s friendships ways—and also extremely revealing in the things that it finds natural and strange. Also th The foundational lesbian pulp in America. Fascinating. Tereska Torres seems to have some complex feelings about it and that it was received as such scandalous material instead of as a war memoir. However: as written, it is pretty scandalous! There’s some interesting love and sex shapes described in there! I loved it and found it moving in a number of ways—gay ways, war ways, Jewish ways, women’s friendships ways—and also extremely revealing in the things that it finds natural and strange. Also there is SO much psychology and psychiatry talk in it, as I’m realizing there is in all of these books. I guess I really do have to return to the psychology books and writing of the era. Much more to say.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ry Herman

    Historically interesting and not without literary merit, but it suffers from a number of flaws, not the least of which is a rather outdated view of lesbians and bisexuals (some of which may have been included at the insistence of the publisher.) The storyline is meandering and unbalanced, and while things pick up quite a bit at the end, it isn't enough to save the book. Still, it's interesting both as a fictionalized memoir of an otherwise little-discussed slice of life during World War II, and Historically interesting and not without literary merit, but it suffers from a number of flaws, not the least of which is a rather outdated view of lesbians and bisexuals (some of which may have been included at the insistence of the publisher.) The storyline is meandering and unbalanced, and while things pick up quite a bit at the end, it isn't enough to save the book. Still, it's interesting both as a fictionalized memoir of an otherwise little-discussed slice of life during World War II, and an example of what was, in its day, a scandal-causing best-seller.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I was really surprised by how tender and well written this book is. Its cover, forward, etc. all tout it as this racy and sensational pulp classic, but it’s a genuinely touching and insightful look into wartime relationships and interactions. I guess this makes sense, as it wasn’t written specifically to be a pulp work. Still, there’s a quality here that I was not expecting. The author takes time with the characters and develops them with consideration and respect. It’s a beautiful book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    Today categorized as a landmark novel in lesbian pulp fiction, Women's Barracks wasn't written with such a legacy in mind. French writer Teresa Torres wrote a novel, with the encouragement of her husband, based on her experiences with the Free French Forces in London during WW2. It's the story primarily of five young women, all reveling in the freedom of being alone and employed in wartime London. Almost all seek escape from their pasts, finding it in sex, in work, in love, and in reinvention. T Today categorized as a landmark novel in lesbian pulp fiction, Women's Barracks wasn't written with such a legacy in mind. French writer Teresa Torres wrote a novel, with the encouragement of her husband, based on her experiences with the Free French Forces in London during WW2. It's the story primarily of five young women, all reveling in the freedom of being alone and employed in wartime London. Almost all seek escape from their pasts, finding it in sex, in work, in love, and in reinvention. They explore their sexuality, with soldiers passing through London and with each other. It's not especially scandalous by modern standards. The sex is plentiful, but often related after the fact rather than showing us the moment. But it's easy to see why it was scandalous at the time it was published (first publication in 1950), for its frank discussions of lesbian and bisexual relationships and for the unapologetic sexual agency wielded by all of the women. The only mar on the book is the narrator, added just before publication on the advice of the editor as a way to present the relationships in the book as prejudged. Through our moralizing narrator we learn that lesbians are to be pitied, bisexuals to be reviled, and heterosexually active women are to seen as warnings. Through interviews, the author has expressed her disgust with having to add such a narrator. It's easy enough to read through the narration and to see Women's Barracks as what it was intended to be: an honest book about women and the relationships that carry them through.

  24. 4 out of 5

    carlageek

    Vastly better written than some other pulps I could name (I’m looking at you, Ann Bannon and Vin Packer, with all due respect to your accomplishments and importance). At its best, Women’s Barracks is a reasonably touching meditation on the anxieties of girls coming of age in the surreal chaos of war, displaced from their homes and families. The prose loses its way a bit each time one of the girls loses her virginity (too many of these are recounted with prurient detail, so that it becomes rather Vastly better written than some other pulps I could name (I’m looking at you, Ann Bannon and Vin Packer, with all due respect to your accomplishments and importance). At its best, Women’s Barracks is a reasonably touching meditation on the anxieties of girls coming of age in the surreal chaos of war, displaced from their homes and families. The prose loses its way a bit each time one of the girls loses her virginity (too many of these are recounted with prurient detail, so that it becomes rather fetishy and cringe-making), but the emotional core is there, and the psychological impact of each girl’s experience is somewhat nuanced. Indeed, Torrès is a skilled enough writer that I rather wish she had just written a straight-up memoir of her service in the Free French Army, instead of fictionalizing it into this pulpy sensational thing — but this was certainly easier to get published and it helped feed Torrès’s family for a while, so I really can’t blame her. Sociologically interesting is the book’s analysis of lesbianism; particularly its distinction between real lesbians, doomed to their inversion by a cruel accident of nature, and dilettantish bisexuals (not a term Torrès uses) who experiment with lesbianism out of boredom or loneliness. I suppose this was a comforting rationalization for Torrès and her readers, preserving as it does the normalcy of the girls who indulge. But even toward the lifers, as it were, Torrès shows compassion, recognizing their loves and heartbreaks as equal in depth and force to the loves and heartbreaks of all.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    I can’t remember anymore what it was that I expected from this book, it was randomly suggested to me via one of my library’s websites. Women’s Barracks follows several women during the second world war and is based on the real life of the author. Though how much of it actually comes from her life, I’m not really sure. Honestly I found this book disappointing. The writing was too much description of places and things, and not enough erotica. The characters were confusing and all got married to men I can’t remember anymore what it was that I expected from this book, it was randomly suggested to me via one of my library’s websites. Women’s Barracks follows several women during the second world war and is based on the real life of the author. Though how much of it actually comes from her life, I’m not really sure. Honestly I found this book disappointing. The writing was too much description of places and things, and not enough erotica. The characters were confusing and all got married to men in the end. I really just wanted to read a steamy old-timey read about lesbians and what I got was a jumble of toxic relationships, a writer who was inexperienced and a story that ended in heteronormativity. The one good thing about reading this book is now it motivates me to try and find the best lesbian fiction out there! If anyone has any recommendations let me know! I don’t suggest reading this book and I gave it 2.5 stars or 3 stars on Goodreads.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Meen

    This was one of the featured books at a "lesbian pulp fiction" reading at Stonewall a couple months ago, and from the excerpted reading I thought it was just pulpy smut. But turns out there was only that one section of smut and the rest was a surprisingly (for the time) honest portrayal of life in war, life in the company of women, life and coming of age, and life--just life... I really enjoyed it, but I would've enjoyed it more if it had been more focused on the lesbians, their experiences of l This was one of the featured books at a "lesbian pulp fiction" reading at Stonewall a couple months ago, and from the excerpted reading I thought it was just pulpy smut. But turns out there was only that one section of smut and the rest was a surprisingly (for the time) honest portrayal of life in war, life in the company of women, life and coming of age, and life--just life... I really enjoyed it, but I would've enjoyed it more if it had been more focused on the lesbians, their experiences of lesbianism, and the perceptions of the other women to such open lesbianism--especially since so much of our pre-Stonewall history is still so hidden.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Anne

    I thought this was interesting but it was lacking a few things. (view spoiler)[First of all, the narrator was the most one-dimensional character, and was barely a character at all, but I figured out by the time I read the interview in the back that it was because she was forced to write in a more judgmental tone than she would have wanted because AMERICA. Which I guess explains all the 'poor, sad lesbians will never be happy, those miserable creatures' and calling the non-lesbians 'real women' b I thought this was interesting but it was lacking a few things. (view spoiler)[First of all, the narrator was the most one-dimensional character, and was barely a character at all, but I figured out by the time I read the interview in the back that it was because she was forced to write in a more judgmental tone than she would have wanted because AMERICA. Which I guess explains all the 'poor, sad lesbians will never be happy, those miserable creatures' and calling the non-lesbians 'real women' but those things were still annoying. But it was definitely a fun view into the world of women's barracks at the time. (hide spoiler)]

  28. 4 out of 5

    Grania

    The spine lay trembling in my warm embrace as I pressed the pages between firm but supple finger and thumb. I pressed the folio apart and my eyes pored over the naked typeface within. How could such words exist, so blunt yet so teasing?

  29. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    This book was definitely not as scandalous as I was expecting, but I'm sure it was shocking for the times. It's a story about love and war, and it did leave me a bit sad at the end. I enjoyed the author interview as it shed a lot of light into the characters. This book was definitely not as scandalous as I was expecting, but I'm sure it was shocking for the times. It's a story about love and war, and it did leave me a bit sad at the end. I enjoyed the author interview as it shed a lot of light into the characters.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Merli

    The life of foreign women during the war, dealing with love, life and understanding of the two

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.