Andrea Ashworth's powerful memoir Once in a House on Fire explores a gritty, sinister outlook on childhood in 1970s Manchester, England.

Despite never publishing another book since its release, Once in a House on Fire acts as Ashworth's lone crown jewel of her literary work. In a poetic, dream-like recounting of her upbringing, Ashworth covers a rollercoaster of topics in her autobiographical illustration, such as motherly and sisterly love, abuse and financial misfortune. From Manchester to Canada, grave dealings follow Ashworth and her sisters wherever they go. In this text, powering through life is the only source of inspiration for our protagonists.

Sometimes, I got sick of waiting for my own life to start.

- Andrea Ashworth

Once in a House on Fire travels across the globe to depict the youth and upbringing of 3 sisters, the depressive episodes of a lonely mother and the unlawful affairs of 2 stepfathers as a portrayal of a broken childhood. Even when tackling sensitive subjects, the memoir deals with them in an incredibly mature, childlike way to paint a respectful image of early mental damage and trauma, while also maintaining the hopeful spirit of later improvement in life.

Throughout the memoir, Ashworth allows even the characters who commit to the most awful lives or deeds to have glimmers of purity within their persona. The flaws of those that surround and remain part of the family being showcased as a basic trait to all humans does nothing to combat the racist attacks, both verbal and physical as well as the psychological abuse sustained by the sisters and less so their mother, but still presents a realistic, if bleak insight into 1970s life.

What do others think of the book?

Once in a House on Fire touches on several controversial topics that may be viewed as inappropriate for younger audiences by many adults, but it appears as though the younger audiences in question do not feel the same!

Harvey Beese, a current student at Dudley College, read the book independently in his own spare time! When asked for his general thoughts, he excitedly replied with: "Once in a House on Fire is a truly beautiful read filled with warm, yet weirdly harsh imagery of a poverty-stricken family. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who has an interest in descriptive works of England's older days!"

Once in a House on Fire is also taught as a component of some English A Level programmes. Fiza Arshad, a student pursuing A Level English Language and Literature study at Halesowen College, stated: "I think House is a very interesting book to study and read due to the fact that it combines fiction elements with a non-fiction literary text that makes the biographical perspective of the book entrancing to the average reader."

Once in a House on Fire is available as its most recent publishing as an e-book or paperback through Picador!