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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
118
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2006
It is one of the few books I have which I have read over and over again over the last 13 years. I use this book (and the other autobiographies she has written)when I am feeling low as a pick me up. It makes me feel that no matter how bad things are, if Helen and her family can get through what they experienced I should be able to get through anything!
It is extremely well written, descriptive but not excessively so keeping my interest throughout the book. The characters are conveyed very clearly, and her experiences are very vividly written, the lack of soap, bug bites and lack of food and warmth makes you realise how lucky you are!
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on 27 June 2000
Fantastic. How this girl lived through all this is amazing, I know that I would have collapsed and died. There was not one book out of the four making the Autobiography that I didn't cry with her.
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on 27 December 2012
This is a brilliant follow up to Twopence to cross the Mersey. The dreadful circumstances in which these people live seems almost unbelievable. The seemingly impossible recovery of ordinary life just goes on and on with no relief.The sheer awfulness just keeps you turning the page. And then you realise it is a true story.
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on 22 January 2000
When I am feeling miserable and sorry for myself - having to work full time, not always having the money to go out or buy the latest fashions - I read any of Helens novels detailing the grinding poverty, desperate loneliness and family home devoid of any warmth or love and I realise how truly lucky I am. Her books should be compulsory reading in schools in the developed world to show todays children how fortunate they are in every way and how easy life is and will continue to be for them. The sad fact is that without memoirs such as this, we would not know the full extent of peoples suffering during the depression - it is almost as if our society is ashamed of the memory. Very sad indeed.
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on 4 April 2005
The Forrester family are slowly winning their fight for survival. But 14 year old Helen's personal battle is to persuade her parents to allow her to earn her own living, to lead her own life after years of neglect and inadequate schooling while she cared for her six younger brothers and sisters. Her untiring struggles against illness caused by severe malnutrition and dirt (she has her first bath in 4 years), and above all the selfish demands of her parents, make this story of amazing courage and perseverance both heartbreaking and inspiring
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on 15 December 2015
Second part of Helen Forrester's autobiography about her formative years spent in impoverished pre-war Liverpool. Helen is now an adolescent but still a skivvy to her selfish and irresponsible parents who have still not learnt any lessons, and continue to smoke, drink and buy expensive furniture on the never-never while their children go hungry, dirty and cold.
Helen has to constantly fend off bailiffs at the door while dreaming of finding a job. After tussles with her parents she is finally allowed to go out to work, but has to give up her wages to her mother. Though suffering from malnutrition, things are nevertheless starting to look up for Helen.

Helen Forrester writes in an easy, natural style and her compassion towards her feckless parents and sense of responsibility for her siblings is more than I could have managed in her circumstances.
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on 2 November 2014
I love Helen Forrester's books. She had such a difficult and harsh childhood, raised by parents that seemed unable to care for themselves let alone young children.

Helen, in spite of her parents failings managed to get into school and study as well as cook, clean and take care of her siblings.
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on 19 January 2014
Another fantastic read can't wait to read the sequels. A fantastic author have decided to read all of her books. Unfortunately nothing is getting done at home so I will have to put the books down sometime. Would definitely recommend her books when you have some spare as once you start a story you have to read till the end of the book
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on 3 August 2013
I have read this several times and was so excited to find it for my kindle! I have read it again and found things in it that I didn't notice the first and second time so it was fabulous.
Quite a tragic story for a young girl to become her siblings mother , but on the other hand quite heart felt of he way people work together. Well worth a read ....again !
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on 16 May 2016
Finally after many years, I have read one of Helen Forrester's books, and ended up being not so disappointed as annoyed, at least at times.

I'll sum up first, by saying, it would seem a case of once a snob always a snob.

The young Helen, dragged out of a life of privilege, finds herself in impoverished inner city Liverpool. However, her parents are indeed so snobbish and elitist in attitude, that they simply cannot admit that they are - now - no different at all to those around them, and here we have the first rub - their pathetic attempts to maintain standards are purely their own standards and are applied thus - to the exclusion of their children. This results in the illogical and ridiculous situation of the parents looking down on the working class families around them, when in reality the Forresters are just the same as them, and at times probably worse due to the pathetic attempts to show they are 'better'. One way they did this was by filling the lounge with a ton of expensive furniture and fittings, all on HP which they cannot afford and of course, fall badly behind with the repayments This is despite them already being bankrupt and with the father remaining unemployed and with the mother working in various stores as a demonstrator of various household goods; a job which does not pay enough to ease the terrible situation at home. The repayments or the repercussions of non-payment then cripple the family leaving them without proper food, clothing, personal and household necessities; the father still drinks and both mother and father smoke.

The worst affected is young Helen, who not only has to go without, despite a rapidly maturing young girl, but as was often the case, as the eldest she was considered the unpaid help, and using entirely inadequate resources, has to shop, feed the family and clean the house as best she can, and this remains the case for her even after she starts work. The trouble here is, Helen, despite a mostly strained relationship with her mother, shows some of the same elitist characteristics and is as dismissive of many around her as her parents are. Not as bad, admittedly, but just like her mother in particular, she cannot see, as she goes through her daily life hungry, badly shod, often unclean and several times seriously ill, that she and her family are no better, and at times most probably worse off, then most of the working class families in her area.

But from the middle of the tale onwards, things do get a little easier for Helen and the rest of the Forresters. Things are still far from what they should be; but at least there's one less wolf at the door than there was.

Will I read the rest of Helen's own tale of her life in Liverpool? I don't know, maybe. But - there are many, many worthy tales of families in 1930s Liverpool, who did indeed pull together and did indeed make the best out of a bad situation, and these put Helen Forrester's tales into perspective. By that I mean Helen Forrester generalised with a sweeping dismissive swish of her hands, making out that 1930s Liverpool was something akin to the Victorian East End with a Jack the Ripper waiting around every corner - there wasn't.
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