Customer Reviews


10 Reviews
5 star:
 (1)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poverty in the UK
This book is about the nearly poor and how they try to survive in the society we live in, the one which politicians try to hide from everyone. The book is divided in three sections... in each the writer spends a month in different parts of the UK trying to make ends meet with minimum wage jobs. Fran cleans, works in a sauce factory and cares for the elderly. She is often...
Published on 26 Aug 2002 by Miss A Ridgway

versus
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Moving but predictable
Whilst her account was interesting and her portrayal of the people she met along her journey was moving, I didn't think she unearthed anything particularly new.
The chapter that dealt with her time in the old peoples' home in Aberdeen was very interesting, but more for the telling practices of the home, than the low wage culture she encountered.
Hardly a ground...
Published on 13 Feb 2003 by S. A. Richmond


Most Helpful First | Newest First

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poverty in the UK, 26 Aug 2002
This review is from: Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage (Paperback)
This book is about the nearly poor and how they try to survive in the society we live in, the one which politicians try to hide from everyone. The book is divided in three sections... in each the writer spends a month in different parts of the UK trying to make ends meet with minimum wage jobs. Fran cleans, works in a sauce factory and cares for the elderly. She is often conned by having costs for transport and "essential safety clothing" taken out of her wages - which are never accurate. The sad thing is that the people Fran meets are not claiming benefits, they are trying to make a life for themselves, however they would have more money if they signed on.
This book really opens your eyes and should be compulsory reading for everyone, once a year, so they don't lose sight of reality. I struggle... I have debts, but this book tore at my heart and made me feel lucky for what I do have. I'm reading it for the 3rd time in a week. Buy this book. You won't regret it. And if you know any politicians, buy them a copy too.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Moving but predictable, 13 Feb 2003
By 
S. A. Richmond (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage (Paperback)
Whilst her account was interesting and her portrayal of the people she met along her journey was moving, I didn't think she unearthed anything particularly new.
The chapter that dealt with her time in the old peoples' home in Aberdeen was very interesting, but more for the telling practices of the home, than the low wage culture she encountered.
Hardly a ground breaking book, but an interesting little read nonetheless.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Journalist tries minimum wage work around the country, 4 Jun 2003
By 
elkiedee "elkiedee" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage (Paperback)
Most of the book is a republication of material first published in the newspaper in a slightly different form. Fran Abrams acknowledges Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed and says this is a UK version. Her 3 minimum wage jobs are cleaning in London, factory work in the north west of England and care work in Scotland. I found it quite an interesting quick read, and would have liked there to be a little more. The book lacks the depth of Nickel and Dimed but is worth a read.

My main gripe is as follows:

As a trade unionist, I would say that both for the newspaper articles and this book, it might have been helpful to talk to unions about what they are trying to do, not just slate them for their lack of interest in organising low paid workers. It would have also provided a different voice on the issue in the book.

Not spectacular and will be ignored by those who should take notice, but worth a read anyway
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The dimensions of poverty, 23 Aug 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage (Paperback)
Fran Abraham's experiences of living on poverty wages for three months in London, South Yorkshire and Scotland open up our eyes to the multi-dimensional nature of relative poverty in the UK. This is a book that is difficult to put down - the personalities that she meets and works with are rich; Abrahams paints vivid pictures of working conditions in jobs that few would even consider but which are a vital part of our social and economic fabric. I read this book in one go, it is a valuable antidote to stories of mass wealth and ostentatious consumption and consumer excess.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't be tempted...., 23 Nov 2002
This review is from: Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage (Paperback)
If, as I did, you enjoyed 'Nickel and Dimed' and thought it might be an interesting to read about a British experiment on a similar theme, then the last thing you should do is read 'Below the Breadline'. Yes, once again the author takes on some pretty horrendous jobs for a pittance. But rather than bothering to expose any of the companies who employ such slave labour (as Barbara Ehrenreich did), she spends her time - wide eyed - painting patronising pen-pictures of co-workers and other characters she meets along the way. Did you know that working class people like to hire stretch limos for weddings they can't afford, but somehow don't do so with the knowing irony of the middle-class Londoners who occasionally have tacky weddings also?? Yup, the insight is that deep and that offensive. One gets the impression the author had never encountered working class people before and certainly has no expectations that they might read her book. I'm angry I wasted an hour and a half of my life reading this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life On The Minimal Wage, 16 Feb 2010
By 
S Wood (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage (Paperback)
Writers of middle-class extraction often get a hard time for reporting from the coalface of poverty, what is often pejoratively dismissed as holidaying in other people's misery. This might carry some force but for the fact that the authors of such accusations are generally comfortably off themselves, and have no wish to be reminded of the often precarious position of those beneath them in the social-economic scale, particularly if there is any possibility of this leading to them bearing any increase in either taxes, or the costs that they pay for a variety of services, some of which are essential even if generally deemed unglamorous.

The journalist Fran Abrams quite sensibly gives little thought to these "concerns" and in a British parallel to Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: Undercover in Low-wage America writes about her experience of working at the minimum wage in three different areas of Britain.

The areas Abrams works and lives in are London (for a cleaning contractor), Doncaster (for a contractor - working in a pickle factory) and up in Scotland, north of Inverness (an old folks home). Her experiences include sub-standard housing (bedsit, caravan and a hostel); wages that are below the statutory minimum; illegal deductions from wages (for administration of bank payments, uniforms, etc); promised hours failing to materialise; "mistakes" in her pay (which is too say she is not paid for all the hours she works). Other issues she writes about are specific to the individual workplaces. Abrams is particularly interesting on the cultures in the three geographical areas she works in, and the three different types of jobs that she takes on. There are disturbing instances in them all, but none more than in the residential care home where the attitude of some of her colleagues towards their elderly charges is frankly appalling.

"Below the Breadline" covers issues relevant to working and living on low wages in a clear and un-sensational manner. I felt that it could have done with a good deal more general context than is in fact present in the text. Also the position of those on low wages, especially those working for contractors, often means periods of unemployment: a subject barely touched upon. That said, this is an area rarely covered in the media, least of all for those who work in the low-wage sectors of the economy, and on that basis it is worth reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, 3 Mar 2013
By 
W. Dawson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage (Paperback)
Good purchase, an interesting read. A taster for inspiring reading further into the issues of inequality or sociology. . .
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Misleading title, 28 July 2010
By 
R. P. Sedgwick "Grim Rob" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage (Paperback)
The subtitle of this book is "life on the minimum wage". But it's far more about employment on the minimum wage as it is actually predominantly about the three jobs that the author did whilst researching this book. A similar book by Polly Toynbee is much better for me as that went into a lot more detail about what she ate, the struggle she had to make on budgeting for things she'd normally not think about, and the things which she was used to but had to sacrifice.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor? poor, 6 Mar 2008
By 
V. Tudhope "mysteriousmorag" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage (Paperback)
I bought this book because I heard the author on the radio and liked the sound of her.However, like some of the other reviewers I found her book dissappointingly superficial.

It should have been a good read because the author writes fluently and she did research it by doing work in very low paid jobs for a period of 10-12 weeks. However the material is thin, there are obvious gaps in the discussion. For example, she does not go into how she explained her presence to her workmates. Even today in Britian, as soon as we open our mouths,we are judged as to our education and status in society - even if we have mild or regional accent.She only makes a glancing reference to this. Furthermore it would have been interesting to hear more about how she spent her time in her accomodation when she she was not working. If she scuttled home to her centrally heated flat everytime she had a day off we should be told! Very little is said about how she fits herself into a different culture and how she really manages on the money (It does not say so explicitly but I think she doesn't, that appears to be a paper exercise)

She mentions 'down and out in paris and london' near the start of the book. Maybe ' return to wigan pier' should have been mentioned too. But on the whole this work does not compare, probably it should have been left as a Guardian article rather than thinly stretched into a book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A poor copy of the original, 16 Sep 2005
This review is from: Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage (Paperback)
I read Nickel and Dimed (Barbara Ehrenreich) a few years ago and was suitably impressed.
I read Below the Breadline and was truly disappointed. Fran Abrams acknowledges that her experience was based on Nickel and Dimed; fair enough, but she does not add anything to the original. The book is quite superficial and I found it very difficult to feel any empathy for the author or her colleagues working on the minimum wage.
The problem lies in the superficiality of her research; Barbara Ehrenreich really experienced the life on low wages. She explains for example what it means if you have to get medical care (you cut down on your food). What does it mean when you have extraoridanry expenses?
Fran Abrams never explores that aspect, and we never get the impression that she has really lived the poor life. Very disappointing.
Go for Nickel and Dimed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage
Below The Breadline: Living on the Minimum Wage by Fran Adams (Paperback - 18 July 2002)
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews