In this piece of work I am going to review the book ‘Love On The Dole’, written by Walter Greenwood. The story is based in ‘Hanky Park’ which is a fictional place on the outskirts of Salford in Manchester. The novel is written about the old days and describes in great detail struggles that many ordinary working class people face in life. The story in this book tells us of the social issues regarding unemployment and social deprivation. The story is based in a neighbourhood where residents would help each other where possible, even though many of them did not have a lot to offer. It tells us of the hardworking jobs that children had to do, for a very low wage. Many of the boys got taken on in factories for an apprentice when they were very young but then got laid off as soon as they hit they age where they would have to be paid a man’s wage. After this happened many men faced trouble getting back into work and therefore had to live a life on the dole. As if having to live off the dole wasn’t bad enough they then had to face a ‘means test’. Anybody wanting to go on the dole would have to have an assessment to make sure they were eligible to receive the funding.
The whole family would get looked at to see if they had enough money to support them. This meant that in many cases one wage had to be enough to support a whole family. They faced many struggles. In order for these people to get money to be able to put food on the table and pay their rent to keep a roof over their heads, they had to find ways to collect money. A popular way for people to get their hands on some money was to go to the pawnbrokers and pawning their goods. Many did this every week in order to survive. Pawning items such as husbands ‘Sunday bests’ to old bedding. The story follows two particular characters, Harry Hardcastle and Sally Hardcastle. Sibling’s who grew up in ‘Hanky Park’ in poverty. Sally sees her chance to escape this poverty and the pawnbrokers rush lifestyle by falling in love with Larry Meath, a self-educated Marxist. Larry is sick and rivals more powerful than him start to get Sally’s attention. Harry Hardcastle worked in a pawn shop. He longed to join the Marlowe’s engineering team for a long time. Harry made it and got an apprentice working for Marlowe. The job didn’t work out how he thought it was going to and was soon set in misery.
His misery soon set aside when he starts a relationship with a woman named Helen. His happiness was soon over as he gets laid off, Helen falls pregnant and he is refused the dole after going through ‘the means test’. I really enjoyed reading this book and glad that I chose to review this particular book. I find the way Greenwood displays the struggles that were faced in the community so truthfully very interesting. The characters that he wrote about are in such detail that you can imagine everything about them, from their looks to their voice and how they are perceived in their society. He tells in such great detail it is almost like a play of the book in your head. I have never read a book with such great detail like this before and found it very exciting. He writes about the financial struggles like everyone is going through it and makes you feel like you are already aware of these struggles.
It is almost like you are living the struggles with the story. I now feel that I am more aware of the social issues that have been present in the past. I feel it is a great way to gain more of an understanding and think it would be a great read for high school pupils to learn about these issues. Although I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book I often found the old English literature hard to understand. On a few occasions I had to re-read sentences to try and make sense of them. I also found some of the slang words that used to be used hard to follow as I didn’t know what many of them meant. To resolve this I looked up the words that I wasn’t sure of on the internet to make myself understand what they meant. Because there are so many characters that are mentioned in the book a lot I sometimes forgot who was who and had to take a minute to sit and think about the characters and remind myself who was who.
Greenwood, W (1933). Love on the Dole. London: Jonathan Cape.]