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As sweet as apple cider.
Cider with Rosie - Laurie Lee
Member Name: merv
Cider with Rosie - Laurie Lee
Date: 30/12/01, updated on 30/12/01 (2725 review reads)
Advantages: A genuinely interesting book,, warm and funny, excellent sequels, illustrated
One of the pleasant surprises I found in my Christmas stocking this year was a hardback illustrated copy of Cider with Rosie, one of my all time favourite books.
For those of you who haven’t read the book, ‘Cider With Rosie’ is Laurie Lee's stunning story of his life in the heart of the Gloucestershire countryside between the years 1917 and 1934. His autobiography conjures up a world of unsophisticated warmth and beauty as it tells of his early life from childhood to adolescence.
The story is very nostalgic and captures a vanished era in scintillating prose, bordering on poetry, with a wicked sense of humour. It is incredibly evocative, particularly to anyone who knows that part of the Cotswolds.
Starting with the three year-old Laurie's arrival in the small village of Slad, the book graphically describes the village and times that he grew up in. It explores the relationship within his close-knit family, particularly with his adored mother and lovingly created characters from the book such as the warring grannies, the shell-shocked soldier, the eccentric uncles, and the cider-dispensing siren, Rosie.
Laurie Lee uses sharp, sensuous prose, to evoke an England long since vanished as he grows from a bewildered small boy experiencing his first days of country life, to his eventual sexual awakening with Jo and then with Rosie Burdock under a hay cart in 1928.
He paints a wonderful picture of his family and the village population with kindly, good-humored descriptions allowing the reader to sit and wait while each character comes into the story. His voice is never judgmental, he has a measured story teller's delivery, matter-of-factly revealing the combination of benevolence and unwitting cruelty in village life.
This particular edition of the book is special because of the beautiful illustrations, which really bring the story to life and allow comparison with the reader’s own imag
ination. They include some real treasures, a handful of precious photographs of that time and place preserved by the author for over seventy years and carefully reproduced in their original sepia tones.
Cider with Rosie was in fact part of a trilogy, which included two other books which I can strongly recommend.
‘As I Walked out One Midsummer Morning’ narrates Lee's first trip to the Civil War Spain in 1936 leaving the safety of his rural English home and embarking on a wondrous adventure. Supporting himself by playing the violin, the 20-year-old Lee made his way to London and then to Spain, where he spent a year wandering across the countryside on foot. Eventually Lee encountered the undercurrents of civil war and found himself hopelessly entangled. Using his poetic skills, he masterfully evokes the ambience and tension of Europe on the eve of World War II. The story reads as if it were told to you by your grandfather in front of a roaring fire of an old English cottage - wonderful stuff.
'A Moment of War' is the third in the series, a gripping memoir in which he returns to the scene of his wartime coming of age and portrays the death of a young man's idealism with sincerity and a total lack of pretense.
Its amazing how few classics have been written about the Spanish civil war which affected so many people in our own country.
Definitely three books to look out for, particularly the illustrated version of ‘Cider with Rosie’ which I was fortunate to receive as a Christmas present.
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