Cider with Rosie, by Laurie Lee

An autobiographical account of Lee's childhood years in a sleepy Cotswold village.

It took a little while to get into the feel of the book but by about halfway through it had cast a spell on me and at the end I felt quite choked up. It's a lovely evocation of a world that's still (just about) in living memory but that has disappeared forever: a small village where everyone works on the land, and where country tracks are used for getting from one place to another, never for just taking a walk. In Lee's memory it is a world of extremes - the cold of winter and the heat of summer, the poverty and constant hunger, the colours and smells of the countryside. It also seems very innocent - even when people break the law, it seems somehow to be forgiveable. Perhaps it's just always like this when you look back.

The whole book covers a period of about ten years, and is written in a series of episodes based around a particular theme, e.g. "Mother", "Summer and Winter", "Festivals" so it jumps around in time a bit. But by the end you have a real sense of the age.

This version was read by Laurie Lee, who must have been getting on a bit by this time, which lent it an extra poignancy. He sounded pretty frail, and at the start of the book, before he got into his stride, I was worried that the effort might be a bit too much for him.

Completed : 28-Apr-2004 (audiobook)

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