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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
86
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 15 May 2017
An excellent book so well written . The author had the ability to use his photographic memory to transport the reader to his world. I recommend it to anyone who is remotely interested in social history.
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on 25 May 2017
Already have this book but purchased another as a gift. Excellent read and the sequel is a must (I have that too)
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on 21 May 2017
Would recommend
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on 6 June 2017
Brilliant book. Bought this copy for a friend (gift). Great service & competitively priced.
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on 14 August 2010
Read about a lad in Northeern England. And a true story about the writer. (William Woodruff) The lad wants more in life. This true story is set in the early 1900's.
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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 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 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 28 December 2006
Had William Woodruff not committed the minutae of a working class life to memory then we could only guess at what life was like for mill workers and their families in the early 1900s. It was absolutely captivating and would appeal to anyone who has a love of modern history, an interest in their northern roots or ancestors who spent their lives working in the mill. The poverty is something I could relate to from stories I have heard from parents and grandparents but William Woodruff manages to take you by the hand and lead you room-by-room through the tiny houses and cobbled streets and when you have experienced a hungry ache in your belly he lets you share his meagre meal. It's quite remarkable how our lives have changed in such a relatively short period of time but those hard, gritty, northern, working class roots give people fight, a motivation to succeed and a sense of humour - it's character building. Where are our children going to get that from? It made me realise how little they had and how much I have that I just don't need. It brought me right down to earth and I absolutely loved it.
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