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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cuppa tea and an aspirin
Living in a court in one room in 1939, with nine kids and a husband who tries to get hired twice a day for the tides, Martha Connolly has no way to better her conditions. She buys old sheets and tears them into square rags to sell for cloths, and her few pence barely cover food. When she has no food she goes around the charities of Liverpool, hoping for a pot of soup to...
Published 18 months ago by Clare O'Beara

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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars average
This book isn't a patch on Helen's own story. I have also read all of her other fiction books, and this is fairly weak even compared to them. The central character isn't one that you warm too, which means that you don't really care what happens to her, unfortunately!
An average read, but there is much better out there. If you haven't read...
Published on 6 Nov 2005


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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars average, 6 Nov 2005
By A Customer
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This book isn't a patch on Helen's own story. I have also read all of her other fiction books, and this is fairly weak even compared to them. The central character isn't one that you warm too, which means that you don't really care what happens to her, unfortunately!
An average read, but there is much better out there. If you haven't read Helen Forrester before, try her four autobiographic books- they are truly excellent.
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Life's struggle in Liverpool during the 2nd world war, 28 Jun 2004
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Having really enjoyed Helen's autobiographical books (2p to Cross the Mersey, Liverpool Miss,By the Waters of Liverpool, Limestreet at Two)I was really looking forward to this new novel but in the end I was quite disappointed. The main character lacks the warmth and appeal of Helen's own story and the plot struggles to get going for me. The central character starts in a care home as an elderly person and relays her life story of poverty and hardship during the second world war to a member of staff and so the story alternates between the two periods. It ends satisfactorily, but over all was not a patch on Helen's own story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather Depressing, 9 Sep 2014
This book is primarily set in the 1930s and 40s in the slums of Liverpool. The narrator of the book is Martha who is sat in a care home bed in the 1960s looking back on her life.
The bulk of the book centres around Martha's continuing efforts to put food on the table and keep the rent man at bay. The squalor, poverty, violence and hunger are all well, and frequently, described. Normally in books of this style, including other books by this author, the warmth of the people and the community pulling together is what lifts the book out of the misery and makes it enjoyable to read. There are flashes of community but the real warmth is missing from this book.
Martha is the central character. A mother of seven surviving children of varying ages. Unfortunately, I could not like Martha. She did show some compassion to her dying friend Mary Margaret, but in her usual daily life she was a hard and unforgiving woman. Her attitude towards her children was not one of love or care but hard and often violent. I am sure that this is representative of the women in this situation and a requirement for survival but it did mean that I felt unable to sympathise or relate to Martha.
There is very little plot in this book. The story progresses onwards through the unrelenting misery of life with very few key events to focus on. Maybe it was the author's intention to demonstrate the daily grind and struggle for food but it didn't make for an entertaining read.
I am an avid reader of non fiction and the occasional biography. Had this been a non fiction book with the details and facts of life being presented in that way, then I am sure that I would have found it interesting, informative and easy to sympathise with the people stuck in this daily grind. However, this was a fictional book which I read for entertainment and relaxation. When reading fiction I expect a good plot, good characters of whom I can relate to & like at least a couple and something to entertain me, be it action, emotion, humour etc This fictional book fell down greatly on most of the things I expect in a good read so I can truthfully say that I didn't enjoy it. The continuing depression left me feeling rather depressed and certainly did not provide me with the relaxation and entertainment that I want from a fictional book.
There is a glimmer of light in this book. As the book comes to an end we concentrate more on the 1960s version of Martha stuck in a restrictive care home. Here we finally have a few characters who begin to show the warmth and desire to help their fellow human beings that is missing from the rest of this book. Unfortunately, this is the book's climax and is over before it has really begun.
I cannot say that I enjoyed this book. I did finish it but wonder if I should have given up and gone to read something more entertaining instead!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cuppa tea and an aspirin, 13 May 2013
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Clare O'Beara - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Living in a court in one room in 1939, with nine kids and a husband who tries to get hired twice a day for the tides, Martha Connolly has no way to better her conditions. She buys old sheets and tears them into square rags to sell for cloths, and her few pence barely cover food. When she has no food she goes around the charities of Liverpool, hoping for a pot of soup to carry home and some bread. They have to meet rent and coal, and several families use one toilet. Martha has one child in a TB sanatorium and one boy away at sea, and keeps her daughter home from school to help hemming handkerchiefs and mind the youngest child.

Life was cold and tough and dirty and people did not wash, carrying vermin. There was never enough food and kids did almost unthinkable things to get treats. Boots had to be begged. With a large population of workers and more desperate men coming from Ireland all the time, labour was cheap.

Then the war came along and everyone's life changed. Liverpool was a prime target as a port, and was bombed for a solid week. Young people got work and money, but at a terrible cost.

Looking back over her life from a care home where she has been put after falling and hurting her hip, Martha bemoans the fact that the family got broken up and kids moved abroad for work, others just dropped her when they married up in the world. This is a sad tale and it makes us grateful for the better conditions we have today. I found it readable and very evocative of the hard times endured in many cities.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable., 8 Jun 2013
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This review is from: A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin (Kindle Edition)
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys family sagas, before and during the war years, I rate this author very highly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 12 Jan 2013
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This review is from: A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin (Kindle Edition)
A look at what life was like in the slums of Liverpool, how poor defenceless people had to fight for their survival
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT, 9 Feb 2014
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This review is from: A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin (Kindle Edition)
AS ALWAYS A GREAT ACCOUNT OF HOW LIFE WAS MANY YEARS AGO. I LOVE THESE BOOKS AND HAVE ORDERED THEM ALL TO READ THROUGH
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where there is no future, 16 Oct 2014
This review is from: A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin (Kindle Edition)
This is a realistic and very well observed chronicle of the lives of the deprived in Liverpool throughout the 1930's. Squalor abounds and many can think of only the present; there being no future for them but, by hook or by crook, to put bread on the table.

Inspired by her faith, Martha struggles to overcome the squalor and yet, despite all the hardship, neighbours try to help each other and, for me, it was in the emergence of community under duress that the story is, ultimately, uplifting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What rubbish, 13 Sep 2013
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This review is from: A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin (Kindle Edition)
Having read the first two chapters and being utterly disgruntled with it, I went to later chapters and lo and behold it was more of the same.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Uplifting Story, 27 April 2014
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This review is from: A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin (Kindle Edition)
A deep and poignant, but ultimately uplifting story that will pull you in and keep you reading until the end. Excellent stuff
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A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin
A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin by Helen Forrester
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