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A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin [Kindle Edition]

Helen Forrester
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £14.99
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Book Description

A powerful new novel, heart-breaking but ultimately uplifting, from the author of the classic Twopence to Cross The Mersey.

Life in a Liverpool tenement block during the Great Depression is a grim struggle for Martha Connelly and her poverty-stricken family, as every day renews the threat of homelessness, hunger and disease.

Family warmth remains constant however, despite the misery and disquiet of the slum surroundings, and the indomitible neighbourhood puts up a relentless fight for survival.

Helen Forrester’s poignant novel relays bleakness and hardships, but celebrates also the spirit of unified hope and the restorative values of the close-knit community.



Product Description

Review

‘Records of hardship during the Thirties or earlier are not rare; but this has features that make it stand apart’
Observer

‘Remarkable that from so bleak and unloving a background came a writer of such affectionate understanding and unsettling honesty’
Sunday Telegraph

‘…should be long and widely read as an extraordinary human story and social document’
Observer

About the Author

Helen Forrester was born in Hoylake, Cheshire, the eldest of seven children. For many years, until she married, her home was Liverpool, a city that features prominently in her work. For many decades, she made her home with her husband and son in Alberta, Canada. Helen died in 2011 aged 92.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 744 KB
  • Print Length: 499 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (20 Dec. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0095CDLLO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #18,630 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars average 6 Nov. 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book isn't a patch on Helen's own story. I have also read all of her other fiction books, and this is fairly weak even compared to them. The central character isn't one that you warm too, which means that you don't really care what happens to her, unfortunately!
An average read, but there is much better out there. If you haven't read Helen Forrester before, try her four autobiographic books- they are truly excellent.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
By judyprm
Format:Paperback
Having really enjoyed Helen's autobiographical books (2p to Cross the Mersey, Liverpool Miss,By the Waters of Liverpool, Limestreet at Two)I was really looking forward to this new novel but in the end I was quite disappointed. The main character lacks the warmth and appeal of Helen's own story and the plot struggles to get going for me. The central character starts in a care home as an elderly person and relays her life story of poverty and hardship during the second world war to a member of staff and so the story alternates between the two periods. It ends satisfactorily, but over all was not a patch on Helen's own story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather Depressing 9 Sept. 2014
By DJF
Format:Paperback
This book is primarily set in the 1930s and 40s in the slums of Liverpool. The narrator of the book is Martha who is sat in a care home bed in the 1960s looking back on her life.
The bulk of the book centres around Martha's continuing efforts to put food on the table and keep the rent man at bay. The squalor, poverty, violence and hunger are all well, and frequently, described. Normally in books of this style, including other books by this author, the warmth of the people and the community pulling together is what lifts the book out of the misery and makes it enjoyable to read. There are flashes of community but the real warmth is missing from this book.
Martha is the central character. A mother of seven surviving children of varying ages. Unfortunately, I could not like Martha. She did show some compassion to her dying friend Mary Margaret, but in her usual daily life she was a hard and unforgiving woman. Her attitude towards her children was not one of love or care but hard and often violent. I am sure that this is representative of the women in this situation and a requirement for survival but it did mean that I felt unable to sympathise or relate to Martha.
There is very little plot in this book. The story progresses onwards through the unrelenting misery of life with very few key events to focus on. Maybe it was the author's intention to demonstrate the daily grind and struggle for food but it didn't make for an entertaining read.
I am an avid reader of non fiction and the occasional biography. Had this been a non fiction book with the details and facts of life being presented in that way, then I am sure that I would have found it interesting, informative and easy to sympathise with the people stuck in this daily grind.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cuppa tea and an aspirin 13 May 2013
By Clare O'Beara TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Living in a court in one room in 1939, with nine kids and a husband who tries to get hired twice a day for the tides, Martha Connolly has no way to better her conditions. She buys old sheets and tears them into square rags to sell for cloths, and her few pence barely cover food. When she has no food she goes around the charities of Liverpool, hoping for a pot of soup to carry home and some bread. They have to meet rent and coal, and several families use one toilet. Martha has one child in a TB sanatorium and one boy away at sea, and keeps her daughter home from school to help hemming handkerchiefs and mind the youngest child.

Life was cold and tough and dirty and people did not wash, carrying vermin. There was never enough food and kids did almost unthinkable things to get treats. Boots had to be begged. With a large population of workers and more desperate men coming from Ireland all the time, labour was cheap.

Then the war came along and everyone's life changed. Liverpool was a prime target as a port, and was bombed for a solid week. Young people got work and money, but at a terrible cost.

Looking back over her life from a care home where she has been put after falling and hurting her hip, Martha bemoans the fact that the family got broken up and kids moved abroad for work, others just dropped her when they married up in the world. This is a sad tale and it makes us grateful for the better conditions we have today. I found it readable and very evocative of the hard times endured in many cities.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable. 8 Jun. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys family sagas, before and during the war years, I rate this author very highly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good 12 Jan. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A look at what life was like in the slums of Liverpool, how poor defenceless people had to fight for their survival
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT 9 Feb. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
AS ALWAYS A GREAT ACCOUNT OF HOW LIFE WAS MANY YEARS AGO. I LOVE THESE BOOKS AND HAVE ORDERED THEM ALL TO READ THROUGH
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where there is no future 16 Oct. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a realistic and very well observed chronicle of the lives of the deprived in Liverpool throughout the 1930's. Squalor abounds and many can think of only the present; there being no future for them but, by hook or by crook, to put bread on the table.

Inspired by her faith, Martha struggles to overcome the squalor and yet, despite all the hardship, neighbours try to help each other and, for me, it was in the emergence of community under duress that the story is, ultimately, uplifting.
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