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Love on the Dole

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  549 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
In Hanky Park, near Salford, Harry and Sally Hardcastle grow up in a society preoccupied with grinding poverty, exploited by bookies and pawnbrokers, bullied by petty officials and living in constant fear of the dole queue and the Means Test. His love affair with a local girl ends in a shotgun marriage, and, disowned by his family, Harry is tempted by crime. Sally, meanwhi ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 17th 1993 by Vintage Classics (first published 1933)
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Aug 01, 2011 Janet rated it really liked it
Published in 1933, 'Love on the Dole' became a huge influence on the British public's view of unemployment and social deprivation, and even prompted an investigation by Parliament, leading to reforms. This is a work of fiction, but is very closely based on the lives of real people - Greenwood himself and the people he grew up with - and later studied from street corners - he always carried a notebook with him to make observations for later use.

Although the lives of the residents of Hanky Park se
May 12, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it
This was another book set close to home. This one in set in Salford, during the 1930's. I read this described as Cathy Come Home for the 1930's. Now as much as I think that should be the other way around it is a good comparison.

This tells the story of Harry Hardcastle and his sister Sally. They live in 'Hanky Park' one if Salford's industrial slums. There isn't much cheer here. If I magine the setting I think of something similar to an Adolphe Valette scene. Greys, damp and fog.

Harry has 'ideas
Elizabeth Sulzby
Love on the Dole is a must-read for students of sociology and class distinction. While it is set in England, it fit quite well with the coal mines in Alabama where I grew up. At the end I compare the sadness in this book with that in The Full Monty, which is advertised in the USA as a "comedy." Wonder what re-viewing that film would elicit from readers in Occupy/99ers.

Greenwood shows how very young boys are brought into factory work before they are of age to work. During those times, they can be
Nov 10, 2013 Liz rated it really liked it
This isn't an easy book to read. Set in the early 20th century in a part of Salford, Hanky Park, that many of my friends still remember, the story is an extreme version of what is going on in Britain today. While we may have a more generous safety net for people who lose their jobs, the attitude of government to those on benefit seems not to have changed. The precedence of capital (the economy) over the rights of workers and the short termism of employers and policy makers that would rather see ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Tina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
The colloquial languaged used by Walter Greenwood adds to the atmosphere of desperation and oppression which permeates throughout this incredible novel. The hopelessness of life and lack of future resonates only too well with the current economic climate, and the characters leap from the page as if people you could have, or might have, met. The book concentrates on the experiences of two children of the Hardcastle family, and the different experiences gender gives to such utter degradation and a ...more
Chris Schmidt
May 06, 2012 Chris Schmidt rated it it was amazing
I loved this... a wonderfully vivid account of working class life in Salford between the wars. With all the social history of Orwell's 'Road to Wigan Pier' and the reality of Tressell's 'Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' but with a valuable insight, without excessively heavy political influences, of how life must have been living through true austerity and exploitation. Add to this a strong narrative structure, some beautiful descriptive writing on par with Steinbeck and a cast of characters you ...more
Jun 01, 2015 Camille rated it really liked it
A very good novel which also doubles as a sociological portrayal of the misery of poor people in the late 1920s/early 1930s.
Several points of view allow the reader to explore this world of poverty from different angles. The fact that all the dialogues are also written in the dialect the characters speak make the writing vivid as you almost hear them speaking.
I really enjoyed this novel despite it breaking my heart a bit!
Jul 30, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
A great book of 1930s Salford the neighbouring City to Manchester. It shows how hard the life was in Salford and the Hankinson Park area of Salford when the crash of the late 20s came and how disposable life was for the underclass.

It is very much about love, loss and hope for the future, based on real events.

Great read try it
Ryan Williams
May 20, 2016 Ryan Williams rated it it was amazing
Hard to get over just how much impact this novel had back in the day. Before TV, before the Internet, before the kitchen-sink-dramas turned into tropes, there was this book; and it brought the North to the South with the force of a tidal wave. Fresh, unvarnished and alive, it more than holds its own against Orwell's The Road To Wigan Pier.
Nov 07, 2015 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love on the Dole (1933) might be the last depressing, worthy, important account of the toll and misery of working class poverty I read. Every now and then I suffer flashes of panic that I myself will fall back into it, die poor and struggling. Reading this really doesn't help, and every year older I get the more deeply existential this fear becomes. Especially as I am now too old to escape, like Sal, through becoming a kept woman and making the most of that to help myself and my family.

So though
Nov 15, 2015 Joanna rated it really liked it
Shelves: political, classics
Tough to read, in terms of the emotional impact, but so important and worthwhile. Despite different geographical locations and periods, it reminded me of Zola's 'Germinal', but with more occasional (and very welcome) humour. The extent of the community's poverty was horrendous, heartbreaking. I loved reading it in the northern dialect, too.

"'Ah, may as well be in bloody prison'. He suddenly wakened to the fact that he was a prisoner. The walls of the shops, houses and places of amusement were h
Jan 08, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
love on the dole

Walter greenwood

vintage classics

as a novel it stands very high, but it is in its qualities as a social document that its great value lies. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

I thought that I would include that review one of many about the book, a society preoccupied with grinding poverty ! now that sound like any country situated on this earth is it about stock market falling oil prices, no revaluation of country's after the second world war, no.....wrong again may be its ab
Jul 16, 2016 Simon rated it really liked it
It's summed up on the back as a pretty good novel but, a very important piece of social history. I agree. Like reading English Journey, it is a tragic peek into these stolen lives. It makes me angry to think lives could have been so disregarded. The work these people did in making Britain prosperous should be forgotten when times get rough. Ingratitude. Callous ingratitude. And the tories and this bloody coalition government still have this as their model of how things should be. Fat bosses skim ...more
Ciaran Mcfadden
Mar 27, 2014 Ciaran Mcfadden rated it really liked it
Don't know why it has taken me so long to getting around to reading this book as it has been on my "to read" list for years.
Well eventually did pick it up and read it and glad that I did. Excellent book .. a very gritty and realistic description of working class life in North West England during the late 20's and early 30's.
Very well written, good story and strong characters .. Recommended !!
Jan 16, 2011 Deanne rated it it was ok
Think this has been done better by other writers in particularly Tressel, reading the dialogue was interesting but it reminded me of my grandparents.
Jan 15, 2011 Kathie rated it really liked it
This was a great read. The author exposed the era, the cycle of poverty and its effects on working class families so well.
Mark Stevenson
Jan 17, 2017 Mark Stevenson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book brings to life what life is like being unemployed in a poor community. Not too much has changed since it was written. It might not suit readers unfamiliar with Manchester dialect. The dialect can slow the story down a little.
Oct 24, 2016 Saff rated it liked it
The dialect felt a bit like caricature but looking past that it certainly captured poverty, desperation and how defined we are by our work, in 1930 but still now.

Probably better when it's not 3am...
May 19, 2011 LauraJade rated it really liked it
This novel was on my reading list at university for my 20th Century Working Class Lit course, along with the likes of Room At The Top, Trainspotting, Up The Junction and a whole host of others - none of which are quick reads!! And as we had to start a new one each week for the lectures and seminars the most I got out of the majority of the books were about five chapters each.

But this was one I most definitely wanted to return to and hurrah, I have finally finished it! Have to say it was worth th
Jul 21, 2012 Nigeyb rated it liked it
I have recently been reading a lot of 1930s-1940s English fiction - most of it set in and around London. It was interesting to shift geographically up to Salford in the North West. Love On The Dole's dialogue is written in a Northern vernacular & it took me a while to adjust.

This book was published in 1933 and there is a wealth of great period detail but it is the overriding impression of grinding, unremitting poverty that is most powerful. The story is fairly predictable and is centred on
An interesting documentation of working-class struggles in the thirties, and along with well-written characters and a well-constructed plot. I greatly enjoyed reading Greenwood interpretation of a Lancashire (?) accent, it was very realistically written.

The only flaw in this is such a hamartia. The entire plot was spilled across the back making me lose interest in the novel and not want to pick it up.
Adrian Hunt
Feb 24, 2015 Adrian Hunt rated it liked it
I didn't really enjoy this book. It was one depressing thing after another (which was the point, I guess) but somehow the characters didn't convince until perhaps the last 20 pages. The choices the characters had to make all of a sudden made them come alive - so that then they were recognisable human beings rather than devices for a political tract. So not two stars but three.
Catherine Evans
Aug 08, 2010 Catherine Evans rated it it was ok
It's grim oop North. No, really... it reads like the Monty Python 'Four Yorkshiremen' sketch. It also felt really patronising towards the demographics it was trying to portray... and deciding to write all your dialogue in dialect and then translating it in parentheses does not make for an easy read.
Matt Micucci
Jun 19, 2009 Matt Micucci rated it it was amazing
So old yet so near to the social issues of today. The situation may have been even more desperate back then, but it sure ain't better now. The description of the man on the dole is still beautiful and relevant today, and harsh reality that man cannot gulp down. Written very well, it's also interesting to see a lot of the phonetic writing of the dialogue of the book.
Susan Kent
Apr 22, 2011 Susan Kent rated it really liked it
My brother gave this book to my daughter and said the subject matter is relevant today. He was right - young people hanging round on street corners, no jobs and no prospects. I really enjoyed this, but I did find myself reading it with a northern accent. Recommended.
John Weller
Aug 31, 2010 John Weller rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Socialists, northeners
Been meaning to read this book for years. Took me ages to finish it and left me a little disappointed.

Not sure how relevant Larry's ownership of the means of production is these days.

It's grim up north.
Sep 09, 2012 Sheila rated it really liked it
My family was in this situation during the 20s/30s. My grandfather, a veteran of WWI and service in India, was a single parent to five children after losing my grandmother to childbirth.
Jan 31, 2016 Rebecca rated it really liked it
FAVOURITE QUOTE: "Sam followed, the smoke from his cigar curling gracefully over his shoulder like the flung ends of a conspirators cloak."
Feb 24, 2008 Tommy rated it liked it
Good example of what it's like to be poor and have no chance to rise out of your circumstances. Told in relation to a manufacturing town during the depression in early 20th century in England.
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“Altogether, a pleasant place, marred by activities of unpleasant people whose qualities, perhaps, are sad reflections of sadder environments.” 3 likes
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