Whereas Netta was striking, Eve had true beauty. Netta's combination of long face, high cheekbones, thin lips and distinctive nose, albeit framed by her thick black hair, didn't in itself add up to traditional loveliness, but mix in her innate charisma that twisted heads with frissons of recognition and the effect was startling.

Eve bore her beauty with full awareness. She used it to get a seat on a bus, a slightly thicker cut of meat at the butcher's, offerings of unsold flowers from the florist, the bread freshest from the oven at the baker's, and to allure the attention of young men whose company she would only consider if they were prepared to adorn her natural beauty with gifts designed to enhance it.

Freida worried about her two eldest daughters in different ways. Netta's confidence frightened her and Eve's flaunting of her femininity disturbed her. She believed that she would lose Eve to a world that she didn't approve of and of which she had no experience. Netta did not need protecting and Freida was unable to protect Eve.

Anything Eve wanted came to her where and when she desired it. This didn't mean she wasn't prepared to work. She worked hard. But for other people. Eve lacked Netta's drive to take on the world and be in charge of it. She flitted from job to job, a while employed in a furrier's on Mortimer Street, a bit longer in a lingerie shop on Margaret Street. The men who owned these establishments sought her glamour, but Eve's, and these poor men's downfall, was always the wives.

With acute practicality the women ran these businesses. It was they who sat in backrooms with order books, totting up columns of expenses, sacking the lackadaisical, rewarding the proficient, being resourceful with potential waste.

The men met with each other to trade, sell and buy fabrics, swap orders, keep abreast with supply and demand, pocket the proceeds and appear to be accountable. It was the men who fell for Eve but it was the women who thought they knew her.

The notion that Eve was a marriage-wrecking man-eater, was not based on any actual evidence. It was laughable that Eve would have any interest in the almost uniformly short, round, early middle-aged, shabbily dressed gentlemen who implored her to work for them. But such was the sway of Eve's beauty, the mere knowledge that she worked in close proximity with their husbands in the front of the shops whilst they toiled in the backrooms, the wives' concentration would falter, maybe even a mistake or two would be made. They could not afford to allow their control over the business to weaken. If tradition allowed it, they would assert their authority in the shops themselves. Women, it was commonly believed, didn't trust a woman who owned a business, but neither would they trust a woman married to a businessman who wasn't running it for him.

So Eve would have to go.

This was done not without a small amount of turmoil. Sales were generally improved by Eve's presence in the shops. But a truly practical wife had the means to work out that the small decrease in income was nothing compared to what would be lost if Eve ensnared their husbands and consequently all their hard won enterprise.

Eve wandered from job to job blithely unaware of the unrest she was causing. It suited her, in fact, to change jobs so frequently. Work was a temporary arrangement as far as her plans were concerned. Sooner or later the man who was earning enough to not need her paltry income to contribute to household expenses was going to appear in her life and whisk her away from Candover Mansions, to a smarter, better placed apartment building, and place her in the setting that best complemented her beauty.

 Currently the most suitable candidate for this post was Nat Pintzer.

Nat owned a barber's shop on Jermyn Street. What made him attractive to Eve, apart from his elegant physique, his height and his perfectly formed features was his clientele. Nat had succeeded in drawing in customers from a wider circle than that which Eve was used to in West One. That is, not all his patrons were Jewish. In fact very few of them were. More than anything this implied sophistication, worldliness and aspiration. He wasn't just a barber, he was a gentlemen's barber.

The Pintzers were indisputably English. Both Nat's parents had been born in London and Nat reaped the benefits of the previous two generations' toil. The Pintzers represented to Eve how much could be achieved (or earned). They had a stability, a kind of calmness. They were settled and quiet. And Eve found these qualities very appealing, directly opposed, as they were, to the frenetic din of vulnerability that she lived amongst.

Ivan's (the barber shop was named after Nat's father who had put up the money for him to buy it) wasn't like the barber's on Foley St which was as much a meeting place, where the men would sit and argue and play clobyosh and argue whilst from time to time Abe Kreindler would trim a bit of beard. Luxuriously Art Deco, Ivan's was decorated with clean white tiles, smooth black granite surfaces and shining new mirrors lit by chrome and glass fittings. Identical bottles arranged symmetrically on glass shelving held delicious pungencies. Personalised sets of mugs and the best beaver brushes were kept in a locked cabinet as a gift to regular clients - you only had to come twice to receive one. Towels were soft, white and plentiful. And more importantly conversation was kept to a minimum.

Being particularly handsome and running a successful business there were no shortage of gorgeous and not so gorgeous young women eager to trap Nat. He took them out for drinks, sometimes for dinner or dancing, but on the whole they bored him. He was more relaxed in the company of the men who came for the closest, smoothest shave in the West End, and the thrill of seeing them glowing, pristine and fresh smelling as they left his shop, his hands still tingling with the touch of their skin, was so much greater than anything he felt in the company of the dyed haired, over made up and far too persistent girls who darted around him like hummingbirds.

When Netta had introduced Eve to Nat (it was Netta who had introduced most people to the people they knew) there had been no intention of romantic involvement - she recognised what Nat was. What Netta wanted was to (temporarily) soothe the restlessness that permeated the flat and increased Freida's not so silent tutting and clucking as she followed Eve from sofa to armchair to dining chair, picking up what she dropped, a shoe, an earring, a hair clip from the place she had vacated. Eve lolling around the flat without a beau or admirer was a dull listless thing, a caged bird that has plucked its feathers out of boredom and left all its decorative glory lying at its feet.

Netta didn't mention to Eve what she thought she knew about Nat; she didn't think she had to. Neither did she step in when it became obvious that he had taken up position as the man most likely to give Eve everything she wanted. Perhaps a bit of Netta wanted to see her sister humiliated, wanted to see her fail. If asked she may have said Eve needed to see life as it actually was and not how she dreamed it should be.

But she thought, and she was right, that Eve was unlike the usual women Nat mixed with.

So on the day that Eve announced their engagement, Netta silenced the guilt she felt in seeing her own plans realised and said all the right things.

Eve and Nat sat close together on Freida's sofa - an uncomfortable Regency piece from Solly's shop with a high straight back and collapsible sides, its faded damask sending tiny smoke signals of dust every time someone moved. Netta sat at the dining table holding a tumbler of gin and Freida hovered, forever ready to do something, serve something, remove something.

"Mrs Hart, please sit. Eve and I would like to tell you something."

Freida moved sideways towards Netta who pulled out a chair for her. Freida sat slowly muttering, "Schvengar?" to Netta. Netta made a tiny shrug movement for the sake of her mother but realised, that, of course she was right. Eve must be pregnant.

"Mrs Hart, I have spoken with your husband and he has given his blessing," Nat continued. Netta doubted it. Eve who had been trying to look serious could no longer bite back her smile, her red lips inflated suffusing her face with an unmistakeable joy.

Freida nodded but said nothing.

"I have a good business and I will look after Eve."

Netta rose and went to her sister who allowed herself to be hugged and congratulated. Netta even kissed Nat. On seeing Netta's approval Freida wrung her hands with pleasure. Nat rose gracefully, a difficult manoeuvre given his height and the age and state of the sofa, and went to Freida taking one of her hands and holding it.

"I will look after her, I promise."

Freida nodded, waited a moment and took back her hand.

Eve watching her mother closely, jumped up and began talking very fast, about plans, dates, guest lists. Nat stood in the centre of the room smiling.

Netta was not for a moment convinced.

They wanted the wedding to be as soon as possible. Freida sighed.

"Netta," Eve said, "come out with us tonight. We have some celebrating to do." And then she was off reappearing moments later with a fox fur, a small clutch bag, higher glossier shoes, changing her earrings and smelling divine. She seemed to be putting on her shoes and reapplying lipstick in one seamless movement then with a quick deshine with a powder puff grabbed Nat's hand and hauled him out of the flat. But not before Netta noted Nat's confused gaze of lust and disgust as he watched her show.

"Quaglino's. We'll be there all night," she called from half way down the stairs, followed by "Goodbye, Mrs Hart," the volume of Nat's voice diminishing as he followed where he was led.

Freida continued to tut, picked up Netta's empty tumbler from the table and said, "She is like movie star. Is good shidduch?"

Netta thought that if she was asking her opinion then probably Freida didn't approve of Nat as a prospective husband.