Stotlfold Irene’s shop talk serving up riveting retail tale

The Shop Girls by Ellee Seymour

The Shop Girls by Ellee Seymour - Credit: Archant

The experiences of a 93-year-old woman from Stotfold have been served up in a bestselling book about life as a shop girl in the 1940s.

The Shop Girls by Ellee Seymour

The Shop Girls by Ellee Seymour - Credit: Archant

Irene Dean, who has lived in Queen Street for 41 years, is one of the stars of author Ellee Seymour’s new book The Shop Girls.

Set against the backdrop of the closing years of the war in a busy department store the book highlights the friendship and camaraderie forged as an escape from the drudgery of their wartime childhoods.

Irene is surrounded by beautiful dresses, sumptuous fabrics and glamorous accessories as the hardships of her own life is temporarily forgotten.

Irene said: “It was such a surprise when Ellee got in touch to ask whether I was interested in sharing my story. She was a great listener and talking to her brought back such happy memories.

The Shop Girls by Ellee Seymour

The Shop Girls by Ellee Seymour - Credit: Archant

“I absolutely loved the work. It was a hard life then and I think people were grateful of the friendship.

The book has been listed at number one for retail books at online retailer Amazon and is also set to be available on audio.

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Author Ellee said: “Irene was a very lovely lady, and I think you just fall in love with the characters.

“People love hearing about the stories and friendships formed behind the counter which were to last a lifetime. People also like the elegance and the glamour, and there’s a huge appetite to keep these memories alive forever.

“The icing on the cake would be for the book to be made into a TV programme – that would be the dream.”

Irene said: “I was in the services during the war, an office girl during the 1943 Dambusters raids. I remember it as if it was yesterday.

“We didn’t have much contact with the airmen and the top brass, and didn’t really know what was going on, but I once saw Barnes-Wallace. He was a very unassuming man, very nervous.

“My daughter is so proud of me being in a book. She said to me: ‘How many people have you told about the book?’ and I replied: ‘Two’ and she said: ‘Well, how come everyone knows about it?’

“I still need to get my ‘younger’ brother – who is only 90 – to read it as he hasn’t so far.”

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