Most helpful critical review
An unusual book, well researched but rather dull.
on 10 September 2011
'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.