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Twopence to Cross the Mersey Paperback – 10 Mar 1990

202 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Fontana/Collins; READING CREASES, LIGHT EDGE CORNER WEAR, edition (10 Mar. 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006361684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006361688
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 1.9 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 92,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

‘It was the biography that I would have written if my parents had not been given benefits, if they’d had to rely on parish hand outs … [I] want to press this book into your hands and go, “You must read this”.’ Caitlin Moran

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

‘What makes this writer’s self-told tale so memorable?… An absolute recall, a genius for the unforgettable detail, the rare chance of subject’
The Good Book Guide

'Should be long and widely read as an extraordinary human story and social document' Observer

Book Description

The classic true story of a Liverpool childhood.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A. BAGNALL on 18 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
Since reading this autobiography, I have gone on the buy and read every book this woman has written - including the next three volumes of the autobiography itself. It is inspirational and incredibly unusual, in that Helen Forrester tells her fascinating story without the slightest hint of self-pity. Twopence To Cross The Mersey is the first volume of her autobiography and describes how Helen and her family - her humiliated and bankrupted father, her 'difficult' mother and her six siblings arrive in depression-ridden, pre-World-War-Two Liverpool, hoping to make a life for themselves, only to be plunged into the depths of the most abject poverty and penury imaginable. Kept at home to keep house for the family of nine, Helen desperately seeks a way of finishing - and furthering her education, only to have every attempt thwarted by her shiftless parents and ungrateful brothers and sisters. I could not put this book down until I had devoured every last page, and immediately grabbed the next three volumes - all equally as fascinating. Without a doubt the best autobiography I have read.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
Some of the happiest memories of my childhood feature the ferries that criss-crossed the Mersey between Liverpool and Birkenhead. It was a great treat when my grandparents took me down to the Woodside landing stage. We would buy our tickets and walk down the floating gangway to wait for the Mountwood or the Woodchurch to ferry us to Liverpool. The boats were impregnated with the stench of stale cigarette smoke, beer and cheap whisky, and unsanitary lavatories, but the ten minutes it took to sail between Birkenhead and Liverpool passed all too quickly. I have read "Twopence to Cross the Mersey" countless times since its publication but the stark fact that Helen Forrester's family were so poor that the least expensive means of travelling this short distance in order to reach the Wirral seaside town of Hoylake where the author had been born and where her grandmother still lived never fails to give me a jolt. Read "Twopence to Cross the Mersey" and you will share my sense of shock from the first page to the last.
Helen Forrester introduces herself as a plain-as-a-pikestaff twelve year-old, the eldest of seven children. The degree of poverty in which the Forrester family live is impossible to describe without revealing key elements of the storyline. Suffice to say that the Forresters were not only poor in the sense that the majority of Liverpool's working-class were poor in the Depression of the early nineteen-thirties. The middle-class family from south-west England that arrived at Lime Street Station in the hope of recovering from bankruptcy were submerged into an underclass of malnourished, ragged, and unwashed individuals wholly dependent on the support of the Liverpool Public Assistance Committee, known to Helen's younger siblings as 'Mr Parish'.
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66 of 68 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
Some of the happiest memories of my childhood feature the ferries that criss-crossed the Mersey between Liverpool and Birkenhead. It was a great treat when my grandparents took me down to the Woodside landing stage. We would buy our tickets and walk down the floating gangway to wait for the Mountwood or the Woodchurch to ferry us to Liverpool. The boats were impregnated with the stench of stale cigarette smoke, beer and cheap whisky, and unsanitary lavatories, but the ten minutes it took to sail between Birkenhead and Liverpool passed all too quickly. I have read "Twopence to Cross the Mersey" countless times since its publication but the stark fact that Helen Forrester's family were so poor that the least expensive means of travelling this short distance in order to reach the Wirral seaside town of Hoylake where the author had been born and where her grandmother still lived never fails to give me a jolt. Read "Twopence to Cross the Mersey" and you will share my sense of shock from first page to the last.
Helen Forrester introduces herself as a plain-as-a-pikestaff twelve year-old, the eldest of seven children. The degree of poverty in which the Forrester family live is impossible to describe without revealing key elements of the storyline. Suffice to say that the Forresters were not only poor in the sense that the majority of Liverpool's working-class were poor in the Depression of the early nineteen-thirties. The middle-class family from south-west England that arrived at Lime Street Station in the hope of recovering from bankruptcy were submerged into an underclass of malnourished, ragged, and unwashed individuals wholly dependent on the support of the Liverpool Public Assistance Committee, known to Helen's younger siblings as 'Mr Parish'.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeany Pavett, Author of Life After Death: A Mother's Story on 20 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm far too young to know what life could have been like for Helen Forrester, but felt as though I was there with her. I was the eldest of a large family and know how hard times can be in but also all the joys as you make the most of what you do have. I wouldn't pretend my life was anything like Helen's, the Forrester family were a very poor family living in Liverpool at the early part of the twentieth century.

Reading Helen's book was much better and far more interesting than learning history at school and it is her story and yet it is also a history book. Her fascinating account of her life in the thirties, gives the reader a real insight into what life was like for a poor family in Liverpool. Helen never gave up hope of an educated and better life. It is a book that you don't want to put down until you have read to the end.

A brilliant book.
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