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Full Hearts And Empty Bellies: A 1920s Childhood from the Forest of Dean to the Streets of London [Paperback]

Winifred Foley
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 April 2009
Winifred Foley grew up in the 1920s, a bright, determined miner's daughter - in a world of unspoilt beauty and desperate hardship, in which women were widowed at thirty and children died of starvation. Living hand-to-mouth in a tumbledown cottage in the Forest of Dean, Foley - 'our Poll' - had a loving family and the woods and streams of a forest 'better than heaven' as a playground. But a brother and sister were dead in infancy, bread had to be begged from kindly neighbours and she never had a new pair of shoes or a shop-bought doll. And most terrible of all, like her sister before her, at fourteen little Poll had to leave her beloved forest for the city, bound for a life in service among London's grey terraces.

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Full Hearts And Empty Bellies: A 1920s Childhood from the Forest of Dean to the Streets of London + Four Meals For Fourpence: A Heartwarming Tale of Family Life in London's old East End
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; First Thus edition (2 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349122180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349122182
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Enchanting . . . a gloriously vivid memoir' -- Daily Mail

Book Description

* An enchanting and utterly absorbing memoir of growing up in the Forest of Dean in the 1920s and 1930s

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read.. 25 April 2001
By A Customer
Maybe i am a bit biased, as i grew up in the village where this book was written (I lived just above the chapel which is often mentioned, and am pretty sure I attended the same school) during the 1980s, and so all the settings are familiar to me. However, I think the writing really puts the images and pace of forest life across. There are moments when the kindness shown by some members of Winifred's family / community are extremely touching, and the characters come across very vividly. Heartily recommended to anyone who lives in/knows the forest of dean, and to all others who are looking for a slice of history which is heartwarming, sometimes very sad, but overall inspiring. A good read.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful autobiography 18 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This is a lovely book - a fascinating autobiography of Mrs Foley as she grew up in a small mining community in the Forest of Dean. The idyll of the unspoilt forest and the sense of community that existed there are offset against the harshness of the way of life and the unremitting poverty. Her accounts of going into service at 14 remind us how lucky we are that this system is now finished, at least in this country. I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Read 9 Jun 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book, though obscure and mostly unheard-of, is completely absorbing. It's not meant to be a children's book, but the language and style are easy enough for children and I first read it at the age of about ten. I have re-read it many times since, well into adulthood. It's not great literature, nor is it exciting or amazing or anything like that, but it's a fascinating and honest insight into the life of the working classes three generations ago. It's moving, funny and informative, and is written in a simple, enjoyable and disingenuous style. Give this book to any child or teenager who is complaining about not having the latest mobile phone / trainers / CD / iPod / {insert child-type demand here} and it might bring home to them exactly how much many children DO have these days, compared with this book's author, whose most prized possession as a little girl was a rag doll made by her mother out of an old sock because the family couldn't even afford to buy her a toy for Christmas. And yet, despite the endless hard work and grinding poverty which the book describes, it seems that the family were far more robust and content (if not always happy as such) than the average family of nowadays. Interesting and very readable, and highly recommended to any age or class of reader.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A New Title For An Old Book 10 May 2009
Beware anyone who is contemplating buying this book and have read other works by Winifred Foley. This book is in fact "A Child of the Forest" that's been given a new title. We were misled by this and bought the book a few days ago only to discover the truth.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars un-put downable 20 May 2009
Bought this book for my wife, as it's brief sounded just what she likes, and I did good. My wife says it is one of the best books she has read for some time, and that I must read it once she has finished. Her review is that it is funny, some parts sad, interesting, and very uplifting. Read it, and you will not be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A trip down memory lane 29 Oct 2009
I really enjoyed this book. It is a series of delightful vignettes from the childhood and early adult life of Winifred Foley. She was a child of her time, growing up in poverty yet surrounded by love. It shows life as it was - raw and difficult but full of people bound by family ties getting on with it and making the best of the little they had. There's no moaning or complaint and unlike today no sense of "it's not fair". It's a tale of hand-to-mouth survival, the strength of family and the ability to find happiness in simple things. It's full of characters and brims with childlike curiosity and kindness. The title says it all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read 20 April 2009
By Mbwest
What a wonderful read - so interesting I feel this Book should be read by ALL children at School. They will then see how much more they have today. Sad to say they can't play out as these kids used too as the world is now an unsafe place now but they have their computors etc. The children of today would read how their Gt Grandparents or Grandparents of today lived. I was so engrossed with this book I just couldn't put it down. I was one of them from the time I started to read this book. Thank you once again for this wonderful read.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A retitled classic 10 July 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My wife loved Winifred Foley's earlier book "A child in the forest" and looked forward to this. Disappointed because it is simply the original book - with a new title. Rather a con
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