Newest Review: ... the opposite of Hawkins. Loving, charistmatic, solvent, good with kids. The story develops when Terry is sent to prison for some 'dodgy de... more
THIS BOOK COULD CHANGE PEOPLES' LIVES.
Once in a House on Fire - Andrea Ashworth
Member Name: paulyvous
Once in a House on Fire - Andrea Ashworth
Advantages: ALL ROUND BRILLIANT STORY!
The story is a biography seen through the eyes of the author, from when she was a young child up until adolesence. Andrea has two younger sisters, Laurie and Sarah and they are brought up by their mother, Lorraine, on a working class council estate in Manchester in the 70's and 80's.
Andrea's biological father died of a drowning accident when she was only 5 years old.
It wasn't that long before she met her second husband, Peter Hawkins. With him she had her third child Sarah. This soon develpoed into a very abusive time for the children and Lorraine- at the hands of Hawkins. The family somehow stuck together and emigrated to Canada, but the abuse didn't stop there. If anything it got worse. After returning the marriage soon ended. Hawkins wouldn't let it die and continued to hassle the family. Hawkins eventually became a thing of the past, and Lorraine and the family could finally rest.
Lorraine though was convinced about her next man, Terry. He seemed to be the opposite of Hawkins. Loving, charistmatic, solvent, good with kids. The story develops when Terry is sent to prison for some 'dodgy dealings which puts a whole new light on things. When he comes out he can't find work which in turn makes HIM abusive, just like Hawkins. Deja vu!
The most important think yet to be mentioned is the human spirit and courage shown by Andrea, even at a young age. By her Mothers' own admission she was 'the glue' that stuck her sisters' and Mother together. Her Mother went through severe bouts of depression when she was on her own. She only seemed satisfied 'when she had a man'. Andrea took over the role as a Mother to her two sisters. Not only doing the manual everyday tasks but also emotional support, which is a situation of enormous virtue and spirituality, and you can only really understand this from reading the book!
When the physical abuse was going on she also on many occasions had the tact and diplomacy to keep tempers to a minimum.
She of course was doing this with trying to keep up with her schoolwork. Andrea was certainly an academic. She loved to read. She had particular fondness for English Literature and throughout the book she would snatch vital reading time under torch light. Of course she goes on to write this book so it's fine in this review to reveal that she was successful in life afterwards- in fact she went to Oxford and achieved all of her academic qualifications!
I can't stress enough what a success this has been for Andrea despite the journey she has had. She had the intervention of a couple of Aunties and grandparents when looking after domestic issues but she did most of it on her own.
One thing that I despised through the novel was the selfishness of her Mother. She simply didn't make much of an effort for her kids'. She also stood by and watched her husbands beat her kids'. Andrea's Mother now lives in Devon and is quite content with her life. Andrea forgives her mother as she says Lorraine has to live with guilt every day.
EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION.!!!
It's been said before this as you may recall. I think there's a strong, very strong theme throughout the book on the importance of education. It sounds an old cliche but it's so true. With Andrea, her education was her saviour! It helped her get through her rocky journey and gave her strength to carry on. She never lost sight of her dreams and despite what was thrown at her she still didn't loose sight of what she ultimately wanted. This could be used as an example to young people today, to somehow get through to them, and hopefully parents'- the importance of staying focused at school. Education is paramount for self-esteem and all round well being!!
Andrea's sisters are both doing fine now in later life, and even as a child, Andrea's spirit and determination rubbed off on her sisters'. She was really acting as a strong parent, were her mother failed!
Andrea had a fleeting visit from her second stepfather a while ago. She felt a slight 'daughterly feeling' towards him and only wished he'd had a better education in life and things may have turned out differently!
Summary: COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN!
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