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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
27
4.8 out of 5 stars


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on 15 March 2017
Utterly fascinating, thoroughly researched portrayal of the life of canal boatwomen in the 20th century. Some people may find the dialect spelling trying to read, but I rarely stumbled over it and in places the language is surprisingly lyrical.
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on 25 July 2014
My tribute to the author and my tribute to the 'boatwomen'. Gives an insight into a way of life, a way of loving and a way of being. Shows how hard life was for these folk, but also how they had community spirit and caring.
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on 14 June 2017
I don't think we realise what a tough life the boat people had. This is an amazing source of information as to how the boat people lived on a daily basis.
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on 10 April 2012
Having visited Gloucester's National Waterway Museum twice, the colourful boat of "perseverance" drawn by the horse attracted me.

Unlike many of the fictions and memoirs, this boatwoman's story was produced by the lady who had just received a couple of years of formal education. It is compiled as a fictional tale of the boatwoman and her family who was born and brought up, and continued living in the narrow boat at the beginning of the 20th century. It is written as though she would speak with the distinctive local dialect.

Earning for a living in the narrow boat was a really hard work. The boatwoman' s account include a number of hardships in the cold, hot, rain, and snowy days whilst carrying materials in the boat, raising several children and looking after her grandparents, some of whom were lame and disabled. She and her family experienced a number of ordeals caused by wars and declining demands of horse-drawn narrow boats after the motor boats appearance. The men who used to maintain the water transport's route and bridges were away during the wars and some of them never returned. Sheila Stewart recalls the hardships and traumatic experiences and tells how she overcame and encouraged the rest of the family.

All of the episodes are written in conversational dialogue style. Her vivid and blunt expressions bring readers to the life of narrow boats with full of joy and hardships. It is also worth reading Jenny's essay attached at the end of the book.
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VINE VOICEon 7 February 2006
- the story of life on the canals, at the turn of the last century. Sheila Stewart writes with heartfelt simplicity of the hardships and joys faced by the 'narrow' boat people. Although a fictional tale, the life of Ramlin Rose is based on the lives of several boatwomen that Ms. Stewart interviewed and came to regard with friendship and respect. Although evoking a way of life that has now largely disappeared, the story is by no means nostalgic or sentimental. The author deftly captures the dialect and 'lingo' of the canal folk, and paints a vivid pictures of birth, life, disability and even death aboard boat. Sheila Stewart resurrects this forgotten way of life with such passion and poetry that more prominent authors must envy her skills! Her seamless, simple prose almost drags the reader headlong into the book, making characters come to life in the mind's eye and turning the mundane events of canalboat life into something that stays with long after the book is back on the shelf. The sketches by David Miller compliment the text exactly, and the pictures of canal families also fit perfectly into the story. This book is a rare treat, one I can't recommend highly enough. Needless to stay, I await the next Sheila Stewart book with anticipation!
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on 20 June 2010
This is the only book ever to make me cry. If you think your life is a tough one read this then you know for sure you have it easy peasy. The main character Ada featured in this book is brilliantly animated and she comes to life off the page straight into your head. This book is written so beautifully and is a joy to read. Hats off to the author!
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on 6 April 2011
As a volunteer at Gloucester Waterways Museum, talking to others about the lives of the boatwomen, this book was part of my research. It is an amalgamation of several women's lives - there is very little written about the subject as most of the boatwomen were unschooled and passed on their history by word of mouth. It is a good read, really interesting and a different side of canal life.
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on 22 October 2013
A great little book written in a clever way,a tale but from true life events. Written from a woman's point of view but that I think makes for a better book as the title suggests. I am a canal fan but I think anyone would enjoy it, if you like to turn the clock back a half a century or so. Sheila paints a very vivid picture to journey you along the way. I came to buy it after reading the bibliography of "A Canal People" which recommends this very book so I was familiar with the setting of this book. All in all an enjoyable read cover to cover.
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on 6 November 2011
A well written story derived from true life accounts, giving a great insight into the working lives of the canal boat families. One of my favourite books.
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on 6 May 2013
What can I say what has not been said before. It start with an incredible journey from start to finish. A horse drawn boat,a mother,a father and six kids to look after. Mum and dad set in their ways,finding it hard having to change from horse drawn to engine boat, with life being so hard. Where death occurs on the cut(canals) more frequent than in towns and cities.

This is one of the best books about canals, families and how hard working they were.
I would like to thank the author for a brilliant read.
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