Skip to main content

Review: Cider With Rosie, by Laurie Lee


Pages:
Original date of publication: 1959
My edition: 2002 (Vintage)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Waterstone’s Piccadilly, London, September 2011

Laurie Lee was a journalist, writer, scriptwriter, and poet, who also spent some time volunteering in the Spanish Civil War. Later, he worked with a team of documentary filmmakers, among them Emma Smith, author of Persephone’s The Far Cry. At the time, Cider with Rosie was an idea that Lee had, but Emma Smith encouraged him to finish writing it. Cider With Rosie is considered a children’s book, but even as an adult, I enjoyed it.

Cider With Rosie is the first in a trilogy of memoirs that Lee wrote about his childhood and young adulthood. This installment in the trilogy focuses on the war and early-interwar years, when Lee was roughly between the ages of 4 and teenage, and it is often hailed as a classic in describing scenes from a provincial childhood, much like Lark Rise to Candleford. 

The book is organized in an interesting way. The book is arranged thematically, not chronologically; so for example, there’s a chapter describing Lee’s mother; another describing the elderly grannies that live next door; another detailing a local murder that affected Slad village. But this structure works; after all, who remembers their early childhood in strict chronological order? Lee describes the village of his childhood in deep, sensuous detail, and I loved the way he was able to capture people’s personalities and appearances with only a few sentences. I hate using the word Dickensian, but there’s definitely that kind of a feel to these characters.

There’s a sweet simplicity to the memoir, which ends with Lee’s emergence out of childhood into adulthood. It’s also a reflection, although subtle, of the outside world; a war is over and the world is about to undergo monumental changes. The reader’s knowledge of these changes coupled with Lee’s innocent perceptions makes for very powerful reading.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review: The Tudor Secret, by CW Gortner

Pages: 327Original date of publication:My edition: 2011 (St. Martin’s)Why I decided to read: Heard about this through Amazon.comHow I acquired my copy: Amazon Vine, December 2010Originally published as The Secret Lion, The Tudor Secret is the first in what will be a series featuring Brendan Prescott, an orphan foundling who was raised in the household of the Dudley family. In 1553, King Edward is on his deathbed, and William Cecil gives a secret mission Brendan. Soon he finds himself working as a double agent, as he attempts to discover the secret of his own birth.There ‘s a lot to like in this novel, mainly in the historical details that the author weaves into the story. He knows Tudor history like the back of his hand, and it definitely shows in this book. Because it was his first novel, however, there are some rough patches. There were a couple of plot holes that I had trouble navigating around—primarily, why would a secretive man such as Cecil entrust a seemingly nobody with this …

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…