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Hopping Hardcover – 5 Mar 2009

22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (5 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007223668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007223664
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 229,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

'One of the book's strengths lies in its evocative details…Most of all, though, this is a story of ordinary people living through the extraordinary period of two world wars, bearing the hardship with fortitude, and longing for those brief moments when they could escape.' Sunday Times

‘“Hopping” is a book of astonishing empathy, eloquence and understanding. It needs to be read slowly and carefully, as the dense network of love affairs and relations fills the equally tightly knitted net of East End streets before the Blitz. A subtle social texture develops of openness and secrecy, love and betrayal, survival and catastrophe.' Adam Nicolson, Guardian

'A sublime successor to the beautiful “Silvertown”, is a classic of its kind. Social history is personalised in a narrative that renders period detail and sophisticated psychology in a novelistic style.' Kate Saunders, The Times

'McGrath is an engaging writer who is passionate about bringing her story alive. Daisy Cromelin would probably have never imagined that she would even be worth a line in the local newspaper, yet Melanie McGrath has found a quiet dignity and honesty in this most ordinary of ordinary lives.' Leo Hollis, Sunday Telegraph

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

In 1997 I was commissioned to write an article for The Guardian newspaper on a little known and even less regarded part of East London called Silvertown. At the time, Silvertown, the site of the old Royal docks, was more or less a wasteland. The docks had long since closed and the area was awaiting redevelopment. Not so long before, the place had been a busy hub, part of what was, until 1968, the largest port in the world. Hundreds of thousands of Eastenders made their living there. Among them were my grandfather, Leonard Page and my grandmother, Jenny Fulcher, who owned a greasy spoon, known as the Cosy Café, on Silvertown Way, beside the vast Tate and Lyle sugar refinery.

As I became more engrossed in the story of the area, and discovered more about my grandparents’ lives, so the article gradually morphed into a book, also called Silvertown, in which I attempted to recreate the wonderful bustle of the area and, at the same time, to paint a portrait of the lives of a working class London family living in its midst.

My grandparents were typical in almost every way but one. Unlike many tens of thousands of Eastenders living in the first half of the twentieth century, Leonard Page and Jenny Fulcher did not spend their summers hopping. The annual pilgrimage to pick hops in Kent was known as the ‘Londoners’ holiday.’ Hopping was a great deal of hard work, for poor pay, but it was the nearest many Eastenders ever came to a vacation, a chance to breathe the fresh air of the countryside and return to the smoky streets of East London renewed.

Rather than write a straightforward sequel to Silvertown, I decided to explore this very East End custom. My mother, Margaret Page, had been hopping once or twice in her childhood, but, just as I had told the story of a working class family living in the docks in Silvertown, I wanted in its sequel to focus on a tale of a single family of hop-pickers. My opportunity came in the shape of a man I’ll call Richie Baker. Richie had read Silvertown and recognised in the portrait of my grandmother an old friend of his mother, Daisy Crommelin. Richie and Daisy had fled London around the time of the Blitz and passed most of the Second World War in the hop gardens of Kent. I began to add my own research to Richie’s reminiscences and soon had, in the story of the Crommelin family, a moving drama of everyday working class life led partly in the East End of London and partly in the Kentish hop gardens.

Hopping is the story of the Crommelin family, ordinary men and women living the same sort of tough, resilient, often happy and occasionally desperate lives led by any number of Eastenders born in the first half of the twentieth century. Theirs is a very common story that has been very rarely told. And that, precisely, is why I have chosen to tell it in Hopping.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Bridgeman on 22 Feb. 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you enjoyed Silvertown, you'll love this. A sensitive portrait of the life of Eastenders, both at home and in the hop fields of Kent. As ever, McGrath vividly evokes the worlds she writes about. She draws you along the streets of the East End and into the homes of those who worked on and beside the river, making you share their hopes, triumphs and disasters. She takes you with them by train and lorry, through the night and out to the green fields of North Kent, where they will spend the Summer stripping hop bines and exchanging gossip over their camp fires. And meanwhile, the twentieth century moves on with its wars and industrial progress, changing the lives of her protagonists in sometimes unexpected ways. Read it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Lynn Evans on 26 April 2009
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed the book.Being a former East End girl it brought back so many fond memories of family life & school days in the late40s/ early 50's. Absorbing & delightful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Pamela A. Bennett on 29 Aug. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Hopping was delivered well packed and in good time. I have nearly finished it and it is well written and factual re dates of events etc. A good story about something that doesn't happen now. An ex book for anyone interested in Social history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sheila Woolliscroft on 21 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book, although about people from the eat end of London,brought back happy memories for me as a child. My family went hopping every year,and I loved every minute of it. The hop fields were opposite my primary school and I couldn't wait for school to finish, to go across the road and start picking. Thank you for such a great story .
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Format: Paperback
'Hopping' is a semi-fictional/social history book describing the ordinary lives of Eastenders before, during and after The Blitz. The characters within this book make it compulsive reading - Daisy 'on the shelf', no chance of romance; her feckless sister who becomes pregnant; Richie, the timid boy who is bullied; Harold, struggling with his sexual feelings - just some of the lives described by McGrath in intricate detail.

Yet hop picking in Kent is such a joyful experience for the city dwellers. They spend their summer holidays working in the fields, living in simple huts, enduring all weathers but enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside. It is back breaking work yet still they choose to come to Kent annually for the 'hopping'. There are some beautiful, evocative, detailed descriptions within this book, but there is an element of factual content which for me, was at times, boring. The author had obviously researched her subject extremely well, but some of these facts, I felt, detracted from the main story. Not an easy read & rather dull at times.

I would recommend it to anyone with Eastend family connections.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Crafty jan on 4 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A really excellent read , my partner had spent many happy summer holidays as a boy , in the hop fields in Kent , so came over all nostalgic for his lost youth! Well written and full of humour and wit , really enjoyable .
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Format: Paperback
Isn't it amazing that people went on holiday to do hopping and all the hard it work it must have involved. Aren't we spoilt these days ?

This book gives a great insight into a tradition, now mostly gone, of hopping. The annual escape to the countryside and fresh air from smog ridden London. The sense of community and people helping each other out, even in the most harrowing of circumstances. Vivid descriptions of London during the Blitz and how everyone just had to survive, no matter what.

A great story written with great sensitivity and understanding of human nature along with the smell of hops.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book kept me reading and reading! It tells of the grinding poverty of the children of London who have never seen green fields in the whole of their lives. It was a very warming tale of children who never leave the poverty or meaness of their environment except for a few weeks in the summer to go to the hop fields and fruit picking of the Kentish Garden.

A very heartwarming story, not to be overlooked as just another poverty tale as it is full of humour and rough kindness well documented about the Hop Pickers of this era.
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