Tommy Hopkins is born in the slums of Manchester in the late 19th century. Though the area is rough, he has a loving family who dote on him. But things change and Tommy falls on hard times. The story follows his life through great hardships, where death can easily happen and loved ones are tragically lost.
Hopkins tells this tale in first person, which makes it vivid and intimate. As it is an era close to our own, it is likely to appeal to people researching their own family history or interested in the history of industrial Manchester. At times the book feels very authentic (the grinding poverty of the flop house that Tommy finds himself in at one point, for example) but at other times it feels a little as if it is cramming in as much research as possible.
Overall the effect is charming, with Tommy’s resilience eventually triumphing against the odds and hope for the future shining through.