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‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

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‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by Ivan on Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:47 pm

“A very serious and remorselessly targeted novel.”

“Every woman who has been in the workplace should read this.”

“Both heartbreaking and strengthening.”

Those are just three of the comments that have been made about this absorbing novel by Tamara West, which addresses the topics of bullying in the workplace, sexism and racism and the sheer unremitting oppression of corporate life. It is a story of the individual pitted against the system.

Allow me first to declare an interest in this subject. I was subtly undermined in a job for ten years, yet always with a smile and never in any way that could be identified as bullying. Two pieces of legislation passed by the Tories when they were last in power played into the hands of my tormentors in perfect fashion. Then, out of the blue, some unfounded allegations (which I would have been unable to defend without expensive legal support from my union) provided an end to the soul-destroying nightmare, with an exit for me and adequate remuneration. The bullies, who had wrapped themselves in Christianity to justify their behaviour, achieved what they wanted, but then so did I. Hopefully that explains why the subject of this absorbing novel – inspired by true events – resonates with me.

The heroine of the story is Rebecca, a charming, highly intelligent but vulnerable property consultant. She works at Benton Price, a large multinational corporation, but suffers the sadistic manipulations of her immediate line manager, Derek. The first half of the book details over two years the slow, subtle but remorseless build up of her workplace intimidation. After that, the reader is thrown into the emotional turmoil of events which last five years but seem to happen rapidly. There are mysterious undercurrents at play in Benton Price that deny Rebecca her chance of fulfilling her potential, while Derek's devious antics seem set to protect him from receiving his just desserts.

The workplace is ineffective in dealing with the situation, and Rebecca indeed becomes ‘a woman of valour’ as she places her own health at risk in her quest for justice. Mechanisms allegedly for protecting employees are flouted and manipulated, leaving the protagonist unsafe and unheard. Tamara’s book catalogues the emotional and psychological unravelling of a strong character who has the courage to confront the obstacles presented yet is thwarted at every turn.

This novel produces diverse reactions from its readers. One reviewer had to put the book down because there were such painful moments in the book - painful because they were so accurate and mercilessly observed and recorded. Another reviewer said she read the book in one session on a nine-hour flight and could not put it down! Hardly surprising, as this story takes you through the rollercoaster of emotions of a working mother who is forced to endure a cruel boss at work.

Tamara’s work encourages you to think of what's actually contemplated as bullying, how it can express itself in many forms, how often it actually occurs and whether you would do the same as Rebecca under such circumstances. It rams home the point that it’s not only schoolchildren who are bullied. The very short chapters keep you wanting to read on to the next saga, of which there are plenty.

This book should appeal not just to women but to anyone who has worked in a large company or has been bullied in the workplace. Every reader should recognise the irrational authoritarian elements associated with management abuse.

‘A Woman Of Valour’ (354 pages) was published in paperback by i2i in June 2011. The author wants to highlight the increasing problem of workplace bullying and harassment which, according to a recent survey, affects one in three employees across the UK. She supports and advises anyone who is being bullied at work and can be contacted through her website – www.tamarawest.co.uk.

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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by Phil Hornby on Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:59 pm

Workplace bullying is a fascinating subject - though not an experience which is fascinating in any way. Alas, one of the factors which undermines the efforts of those who gallantly seek to eradicate or ameliorate such practices is the lazy and incompetent employee who cries foul - citing 'bullying' - as soon as they are challenged and who is encouraged in their knee-jerk reaction by a legal representative or union. I have seen many perfectly honourable managers destroyed by such tactics , and that isn't a pretty sight, either.

As with so many episodes in human behaviour, the challenge is in achieving a sensible, reasonable and just balance in the relationships between people. Suitably skilled folk can make a good living out of providing services which do so...
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by Ivan on Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:37 pm

As with so many episodes in human behaviour, the challenge is in achieving a sensible, reasonable and just balance in the relationships between people.
Phil. Of course I agree with the above sentiment, who wouldn’t? However, I’m slightly surprised by your response to my review, especially as I made it personal.

the lazy and incompetent employee who cries foul
Laziness has never been one of my traits, as I hope Cutting Edge demonstrates, and nobody ever accused me of incompetence. Quite simply, my face didn’t fit! That may have been partly due to my politics, though I kept all that out of the workplace. As the establishment was run by a pious Christian, my atheism certainly didn’t go down too well. Neither did the fact that I’d been divorced, having been in a thankfully brief marriage made in hell when I was very young, and which ended soon after I’d been hospitalised by my charming spouse. None of those factors had any relevance to my ability to do the job, and nobody would have dared suggest as much, but the gradual undermining of my position in the workplace was soul-destroying and demoralising. That’s why Tamara’s book strikes such a chord with me.
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:04 am

Phil is entirely correct in raising the problem of false accusation in cases of bullying. I still have on my conscience an episode from my time as a trade union official some forty years ago, wherein we defended a Member against an accusation by his Line Manager. Our successful defence of the Union Member probably blighted that Manager's subsequent career, although personally I thought that the staff-member had been economical with his evidence.

It's a problem too which many schoolteachers face every day when trying to correct a child, who may retaliate by means of an invented "molestation" allegation.
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by Phil Hornby on Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:39 pm

".... those who gallantly seek to eradicate or ameliorate such practices..."

Ivan- when I typed the words quoted above, I had in mind that you were one of those who had suffered unjustly, but I was seeking to make the point that those unscrupulous folk who. with malice, play the 'bullying card' to conceal their deficiencies do a disservice to those who have genuinely suffered.

Your surprise at me is therefore matched by mine at you , for believing I was not in considerable sympathy with your plight. Funny - people aren't usually in any doubt about where I stand on issues! Apologies, nonetheless.... Very Happy
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:21 pm

Workplace bullying probably belongs in the same basket as "whistle-blowing" in terms of their difficulty of obtaining a fair resolution.
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by TamaraWest on Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:02 pm

While there are always going to be some who falsely claim they are being bullied, please let us not lose sight of the fact that workplace bullying is a very real problem and is currently on the increase. Targets of bullying suffer tremendous stress which eventually takes its toll on their mental health and many become ill with depression or anxiety disorders. The TUC once estimated that UK business loses around 18 million working days a year from people having to take sick leave because they are bullied at work. This figure will be higher now because bullying is on the increase, not only due to the recession but also because bullies know that most employers will turn a blind eye to their behaviour. There are innumerable genuine cases of bullying and harassment, many of which go unreported because people fear they will be ousted from their jobs, especially in the current economic climate. I believe that the Government must address this issue which is why I started my e-petition. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33975
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:32 pm

Michael Heiffer was appointed CEO of a Pensions company called Abbey Life, in the 1980s. He had an amusing habit of accosting a staff member in the corridor, demanding, "What do you do here?". Whatever the response he would inevitably come back with some pithy comment like, "If you are not SELLING you're taking up space."

Recourse to the Human Resources department produced advice to staff along the lines of, "If you're not a sales person, make sure you report to someone who is".

Always nice to feel valued.
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by TamaraWest on Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:58 pm

My novel has struck a chord with many people because they empathise with Rebecca, the heroine in my novel, who suffers many of the bullying tactics that they themselves have experienced.

Without giving away too much of the storyline, here is a little flavour of my book:-

Rebecca is a young widow who struggles to raise her two young daughters as well as cope with the enormous demands made on her by her manager, Derek. She works as a Property Consultant at Benton Price, a large multinational corporation in London, but whatever she accomplishes, Derek always manages to make her feel small. He is a complex character who struggles with his conflicting feelings towards her. He ridicules her, takes credit for her work and sets unrealistic deadlines. He undermines and humiliates her in front of colleagues. Then he removes some of her responsibilities.

Eventually, Rebecca cannot face yet another day of relentless bullying. Her health is beginning to show the strain from suffering so much stress and she decides that she will have to approach HR to complain about Derek’s treatment of her. She encounters many obstacles but displays a tenacity of spirit and tremendous courage as she places her own health at risk in her determined quest for justice.

However, this is not just a story about Rebecca’s courageous fight for justice. She tries extremely hard to cover up her distress and illnesses when she is with her daughters but still they are deeply affected. Then, there is Derek, who seems to lead a charmed life and apparently manages to retain his job despite everything. There is a mystery which runs through the novel - how come Derek does not receive his just desserts? The answer? My lips are sealed.....

Workplace bullying is rife in the UK because most organisations turn a blind eye to the bully’s appalling behaviour. I believe we need an independent body which should have the necessary expertise and resources to mediate at the earliest stages when someone wishes to make a complaint about workplace bullying. It should also have the powers to provide advice and recommendations to hopefully prevent the target of bullying having to endure the traumatic experience of taking the matter to a tribunal or High Court. I feel very strongly that the Government should address this issue as a matter of urgency. More information can be found on my website http://www.tamarawest.co.uk/ and also my e-petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/33975
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:09 pm

The topic can readily be widened beyond the workplace into everyday life.

In the current financial malaise, Councils up and down the Country are having to pass-on the cuts imposed on their income by this jolly fellow





Councillors do not feel like bullies when they have to work within their reduced budget, but the effect is to disadvantage many elderly and disabled folk who can no longer get the simple help with things like dressing or feeding themselves and having a day-centre in which to meet others. Scarce local resources are limited to the extremely dependant, and others simply feel abandoned
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by starlight07 on Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:11 pm

Looks like a good read. I can see the gang mentality even in my workplace which is a girl's high school.
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:41 pm

The "clique" is alive and well not only in girl's high school. Open any newspaper.
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by TamaraWest on Fri Mar 29, 2013 4:58 pm

Bullying is rife in the U.K. largely because the perpetrators know that they can bully without any punitive measures being taken. The targets are usually the ones who are punished: many are pushed out of their jobs and are left dealing with stress-related illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
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Re: ‘A Woman Of Valour’ by Tamara West

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:44 pm

"The targets are usually the ones who are punished: many are pushed out of their jobs and are left dealing with stress-related illnesses such as depression and anxiety."

It can then get even worse, because with the end of paid work, the current Administration views unemployed people with distaste. Something to which the gentlemen of the Press seem happy to add calumny and character assassination.
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