Women's Barracks

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Overview

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 ...

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Women's Barracks

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Overview

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. The grim world of an urban military barracks became the setting for one of the steamiest novels of its time. Leaving “normal” civilian life behind, the women enter an all-female realm, where passionate attachments soon form—between older, experienced women and young innocents, between butch officer types and their femmes subordinates. And for those with more traditional leanings, there was a city full of soldiers to be had— sometimes two or three at a time.

As the Blitz rains down over London, taboos are broken, affairs start and stop and hearts are won and lost. Torres dutifully relates the erotic adventures of her comrades with an equal sympathy toward straight and gay relationships that was unusual for its time.

Despite a tone that is frank rather than lurid, 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.

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558614949
  • Publisher: Feminist Press at CUNY, The
  • Publication date: 5/1/2005
  • Series: Femmes Fatales Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 552,818
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in 1923, Torres escaped Nazi-occupied France in 1940 and became a secretary to Free French leader Charles DeGaulle in London. Over her long career, she wrote some 20 books, with translations published here by Knopf, Dell, Simon and Schuster. Torres married the American literary figure Meyer Levin during the war; he would later translate many of her novels. Judith Mayne is Distinguished Professor of French and Women's Studies at Ohio State University and author of six books on women's literature, film, and popular culture.

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    Posted April 28, 2011

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