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Full Hearts and Empty Bellies

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  161 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Winifred Foley grew up in the 1920s, a bright, determined miner's daughter - in a world of unspoilt beauty and desperate hardship, in which women were widowed at thirty and children died of starvation. Living hand-to-mouth in a tumbledown cottage in the Forest of Dean, Foley - 'our Poll' - had a loving family and the woods and streams of a forest 'better than heaven' as a ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 2nd 2009 by Abacus (first published 1974)
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Caroline
May 20, 2015 Caroline rated it it was ok
This is the autobiography of Winifred Foley, describing her childhood in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, and teenage years spent as a maidservant in London. I found it a passable enough bedtime read. I don't think Foley is natural writer, but it had for me the attractions almost of an oral history.

Above all else, I got a sense of how warm family life could do much to ameliorate the harshness of severe financial hardship. She was the daughter of a coal miner in the 1920s, and life was obvi
...more
Bryn
Nov 13, 2009 Bryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Back before the misery memoir was all the rage, there was the nostalgic childhood book - this one, Larkrise to Candleford, Cider with Rosie, and no doubt others. They capture rural childhoods before cars were common place, when children still went barefoot and the world was a different place. Poverty is frequently a theme, but the authors look back with fondness at a more innocencet time.

A Child in the Forest captures scenes from the author's youth in the Forest of Dean - growing up the impoveri
...more
Sarah Colliver
Jan 24, 2013 Sarah Colliver rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of Winifred Foley, having moved to a village close by to her beloved childhood home, I have been lucky to aquire signed copies of a few of her books. She brings to life what it must have been like to live as a child in the early 20th century -poverty stricken Forest of Dean and depsite the hunger and humiliation of ill-fitting clothes you are left in no doubt that her childhood was full of REAL people, experiences and LIVING...with none of the distractions of materialism and ...more
Linda
May 26, 2007 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of hilarious book you can come back to repeatedly.

At the turn of the 19th century, Winifred Foley grew up impoverished in the Forest of Dean where her father was a miner. At 14, Winifred, like all children in her village, was shipped off to work, in Winifred's case as a domestic. She eventually made her way to London and embraced socialism.

If you need a book that will totally engross you, plus give you a vivid and witty picture of a very different time and place, this is it.
Sylvester
2.5* I've read so many childhood memoirs by now - and still find it difficult to say what makes one more appealing than another. The second half of this book that described Winnifed's work as a maid for different people was more interesting than the first half as it gave a better sense of the times. All in all, a good memoir, maybe not the most dazzling of writing styles, but of interest especially for anyone from the area.
Ashley
Feb 25, 2016 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“In fact I was becoming a young person of means. For going-away presents I had a variety of things from several neighbors.

“Two properly hemmed handkerchiefs, the first I had ever owned, that had sprigs of flowers in the corner… Then I had a comb with all the teeth in; a camisole, edged with lace, in good condition (I had nothing to fill it up with then, but the giver remarked that I would soon grow into it); and a much-battered tin trunk that looked very presentable when Dad had banged out the b
...more
Dorcas
Jun 19, 2013 Dorcas rated it really liked it
Yes, I enjoyed this book. Sort of. Let me clarify, I enjoyed this book til the last chapter or two where the main character made a choice that left me feeling rather disappointed in her. When you read a true story (or any story for that matter) you want to root for the main character and for the most part I did. But without giving a spoiler review lets just say that I was going to let my daughter read the book after I had finished with it but now I'm not. And while I purchased the following book ...more
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Josephine
Jul 30, 2011 Josephine rated it liked it
12th January 2011
A touching and funny biography which relates the life of a child born and brought up in the New Forest during the 1920's. Winifred Foley gives a truthful account of the hardships of life for the families of miners living in the New Forest. Her childhood was one of extreme poverty but what shines through is the love of the parents for their children and although they had very little in the material sense there was a richness of love in the home. It seems impossible that so recen
...more
Owain
Dec 09, 2013 Owain rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics-history
Very well written and encapsulating account of the author's young life. The account is very insightful into its account of poverty and yet sheds a poetic light onto a era in history that I had, until recently, thought fairly uninteresting. The author's life centres mainly on her own thoughts and feelings but is touched deeply by the presence of her close friends and family and tantalises the reader with hints of the revolutionary and Labour movements of the early part of the century.

The author i
...more
Diana
Jul 25, 2016 Diana rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book as I did another by Winifred foley, (grubby knees and dirty pinafores). These books are recollections from Winifred about her life. In this one she recollects growing up in the small village in the new forest with each chapter covering a different person or aspect of her life from early childhood going to school and then up to her time in service and meeting her future husband. I found the book interesting and it's written in a chatty style as if Winifred (Polly) is taking ...more
Lindsay Eaton
Jan 25, 2014 Lindsay Eaton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘A Child in the Forest’ is Winifred Foley’s story of her childhood in the Forest of Dean, West Gloucestershire, and her subsequent adventures after she went into service in London at the age of 14. It was published in 1974, when she was 60 years old, and is a lovely story, well-written and full of tenderness and humour despite the hardship of growing up in poverty. I thoroughly enjoyed it – there are two further books in the trilogy of her life’s story, and I’ll be looking out for both of them
Jenny Carr
Nov 02, 2013 Jenny Carr rated it really liked it
This was much more interesting than her later book. A real interesting glimps into life at the beginning of last century.
Laura
Nov 20, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memior
I really enjoyed this memoir it was a nice simple read about what it was like to live a lower working class life in the 1900's. The family bonds in this story are so heart-warming.
Jo
Feb 23, 2010 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this autobiography. I liked the way it was written and I liked learning about her daily life in the Forest of Dean as she grew up.
Katedorcas
Feb 15, 2013 Katedorcas rated it really liked it
An easy read. Enjoyed more because of family connections to Forest of Dean. We have it easy nowadays.
Elaine Dale
Elaine Dale rated it really liked it
Jan 31, 2015
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Her first book, A Child in the Forest, was published by the BBC in 1974 after it was aired as a Woman's Hour serial on the radio the previous year.

It became the first of the celebrated Forest Trilogy. Chronicling her experiences of growing up in poverty in the Forest of Dean, the story subsequently inspired a BBC Television drama Abide with Me (1977).

The book's sequel, No Pipe Dreams for Father (1
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