Once in a House on Fire
Somerset Maugham Award
With an introduction by Eimear McBride
A devastatingly powerful, moving and uplifting memoir - now a classic of its genre - that inspired others to tell their own true life stories.
When our stepfather staggered home reeking of whisky, ceramic hit the wall. We got used to the smash and the next-day stain, but eventually the wallpaper began to fade . . .
For Andrea Ashworth, home is not a place of comfort and solace, but of violence and fear. Her father died when she was five, leaving her close-knit, loving family to battle with poverty, abuse and the long shadow of depression. But from the ashes of 1970s Manchester and the hardships of her coming-of-age in the late 1980s, Andrea finds the courage to rise . . .
Written with eye-opening honesty, rare beauty and intense power, Once in a House on Fire is a ground-breaking memoir, endearing in its humour and compassion, and life-affirming in its portrait of terrible circumstances triumphantly overcome.
This is a brilliant book. Brilliantly written, brilliantly thought, brilliantly remembered . . . Ashworth has written an extraordinary memoir; the only pity is that she had to live it to make it
Enchanting and thrilling . . . As a chronicle of northern working-class life in the seventies and eighties . . . it would be hard to better this book. It is extremely moving . . . It is also at time surprisingly, and gratifyingly, very funny
Tim Lott, The Times
Full of energy, wit and a child's wide-open gaze . . . Andrea Ashworth escaped the fire to write a remarkable book
Blake Morrison, Independent on Sunday