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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 1 June 2002
I happened upon 'The Road to Nab End' by chance and had no idea that I would become attached to the unforgettable characters that Mr. Woodruff revealed to us all in his autobiography. From the start I realized that the true events that I held in my hands were nothing short of remarkable, astonishing and at times, reassuring. As the author wove the story of the first sixteen years of his life during the early part of the 1900's, it became clear that rich or poor, happy or sad, there is always hope and always family.
Not only did I gain a better understanding of the industrial rise and fall in Lancashire, England but I gained a better understanding of human nature. At times it was hard to believe that I was reading a non-fiction book, for it truly felt as if I was reading a novel by Dickens where everyone was poor, pale, and starving.
It is a great service to anyone to read 'The Road to Nab End'. It allows the reader to watch a young boy grow up, into a brave man, in a world where growth and acheivement may as well have been non-existant. The life of William Woodruff is a history lesson to us all and his acheivements, something to aspire to.
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on 23 March 2003
The finest thing about this book is that it is a history lesson from a very personal perspective. It is an excellent autobiography and a joy to read, which in themselves are reason enough to read it, but it brings home the human cost of what may now seem like irrelevancies in British and World History. Descriptions of the scale of poverty in early 20th century Lancashire are put forward in a matter of fact manner but still they cause one to balk. If not for the spirit of the Lancashire folk one could be forgiven that one was reading about the third world.
I wouldn't hesitate in recommending this book to anybody with even a passing interest in the social sciences, but also those that like a good story. To describe it as a masterpiece is fair.
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on 23 January 2003
From start to finish I was totally captivated by this wonderful book, the characters all came to life from the page. Mr Woodruff makes an ordinary, albeit unbelievably poor childhood seem extraordinary. A brilliant, brilliant peice of work.
Definitely a book I will read again and again.
Thank you for sharing your life with us Mr. Woodruff
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on 16 January 2003
If, like me, you were brought up at the bottom of the pile in an English working class northern town then this book will bring back all those painful and wonderful memories of childhood. I stood with the author in a small dingy front room and in the light of a poor gas lamp felt the heat from the fire on my front and the cold draught on my back. Although at times the book appears to ramble, most of the time I was crying for more and more detail as it is such a wonderful read. Enough said that I have already placed my order for the next installment 'Beyond Nab End' and can't wait to get me hands on it.
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on 8 April 2002
...Being born and raised in Lancashire, although some 30 years later than Mr. Woodruff and in Leyland rather than Blackburn, I could identify very closely with his family's situation. Many of the women in my family and my wife's family were weavers.
This was a remarkably moving story. It's difficult to imagine how desparately poor people were in those not too distant days.
I look forward to the next episode, which I hope will tell us if he connected with his true love in London and explain how he became a university professor in the USA.
I'd love to hear from the author.
Frank Damp
Anacortes, WA, USA
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on 17 November 2000
I was born and grew up in Lancashire (Liverpool). Although my childhood was in the 40's and 50's (a generation later than the author) some of his descriptions brought back memories for me. The coal man carrying his sack on his back, the 'rag and bone man'. Life in a 2 up and 2 down terraced house in crowded conditions with little heat or sanitation is described in a 'you are there' fashion. 9x9ft living areas and two bedrooms for a family of six. The total absence of any kind of luxury or even the expectation of it is indeed food for thought. The image of the young boy realizing what he is seeing as he watches his father holding his stillborn brother for whom there was no money for a funeral. Brothers so hungry they are plotting in the night as they lie in bed to break into the local grocers shop to steal food to eat. This book stays with you.
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on 8 August 2001
This is a classic 'sleeper': I came upon it quite by chance ...and bought it on the strength of the arresting opening (the sound of clogs in the street as the workers make their way to the mills). I had not read any reviews or heard it praised on the radio. Yet it is exceptional -- no other book I have read has communicated so brilliantly the 1920s in Lancashire. The author's style is plain but a marvellous instrument for getting his message across: not a word is wasted and he has the reader hanging on his every sentence. He packs an incredible punch. The chapter on his grandmother's last months in particular is unforgettable.
Reading this book it becomes almost impossible to believe that the world described existed within the lifetime not just of the author but of so many others still living (including my father, born in 1921). The degree of poverty accepted, and the overwhelmingly patient response to it, are features of a world which seems so much further away than 80 years or so.
Surely it can only be a matter of time (and the shorter the better) before Woodruff's book is credited with classic status.
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on 29 September 2001
Williams Books are So easy to read,yet once you start to read ,cannot put down.
So many of us,can relate to his life,the conditions of the times,the struggles he endured.
I hope school children of today will read his books,and be educated,as to how things were in
England,not so long ago. WONDERFUL.
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on 29 January 2004
Like one of your other readers, I just happened upon this book whilst browsing and spending post-Christmas vouchers. Once I started the book I found that I could not put it down, and that is not just a well-worn cliche. The author's ability to grab your attention and his recall of memory are amazing. You really feel as though you are living the book with him. In addition, he gives you a real insight into life in Britain in the early 1900's. What have we to complain about in this day & age!
I have since bought the sequel and will get to it as soon as I have finished my current book. I have also recommended the book to a number of friends.
This book is a must!
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on 19 October 2015
Absolutely loved this book!!! It is written matter of fact way and with lots of humour. Mr. Woodruff does not try to evoke pity for the great difficulties he encountered whilst growing up, or the hard facts of his life, he simply shows he accepted that's how life was in a mill town for most people, but he subsequently took life by the scruff of the neck, embraced the good and worked hard to turn it all around - making a great success of his life. I can relate to many aspects of this book having grown up in the same area, although life had improved to a more manageable existence in my time.
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