Laurie Lee and Cider with Rosie

Few books make you experience the glories of the English countryside so intensely as Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie. He grew up in Slad in Gloucestershire and wrote the first book in his autobiographical trilogy about village life before the motor car and modern development changed that world for good.

Come with me on a fabulous reading journey through 2020. Together we will explore a thought-provoking selection of 19th and 20th Century classics. For each novel you will receive an illustrated monograph packed full of intriguing stories about the author behind the book, explaining its themes, tempting you with film versions to watch, and challenging you with discussion questions.

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For those of us who love England – its landscapes, way of life, history and, of course, its literature, Cider with Rosie is a delightful book. Its language is rich with imagery and makes you see, smell, hear and even taste the things described. I can see young Laurie lost in the grasses, “each blade tattooed with tiger-skins of sunlight”, smell the “smoky comfort” of the family kitchen, and taste the cider which is like the “wine of wild orchards, of russet summer, of plump red apples”. Laurie Lee’s memoir is one of the most sensual books I know!

It’s also a book about change. Laurie Lee was born just as WWI began, in a village dependent on the horse. He had uncles who fought in the Boer War, and his family lived in a world that had little in the way of technology, medicine or prosperity. The changes wrought by war and the passing of the few years of his youth are captured so evocatively, and yet the author does not skate over the difficulties and narrowness of his childhood years. I feel privileged to share in his slice of English history, as experienced in a Cotswold village, when I read his book.

“I was set down from the carrier’s cart at the age of three; and there with a sense of bewilderment and terror my life in the village began.” ― Laurie Lee

Discuss it with me

Laurie Lee was a fascinating man – he had enormous charm (too much when it came to women!), a taste for travel and weakness for drink. Get to know Laurie Lee and his classic book through my Reader’s Guide.

As you read this book, will you drink “the wine of wild orchards” and flush like Rosie in the heat of a “russet summer”? After reading the Reader’s Guide come back and tell me what you think by leaving a comment.

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Featured image credit- Laurie Lee, Cider with Rosie. Samantha Morton in Cider with Rosie (2015), https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4117850/
Body image credit- Joe Roberts as Laurie and Lia Barrow as Rosie in Cider with Rosie (1998), https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3297758/Cider-Rosie-death-childhood-idyll.html

Comments (2)

  1. Gaby Meares

    I listened to Laurie Lee narrate his memoir which really added to the experience. His prose is lyrical. His early life in particular was so evocatively told. However, as you pointed out in your notes, there are several incidents that cause the contemporary reader a level of discomfort. The casual racism and sexism is quite extraordinary! And the village’s acceptance of certain crimes reveals that all was not idyllic and bucolic!
    But all that aside, I thoroughly enjoyed Cider with Rosie. I managed to find a lovely original hardback edition with illustrations by John Ward and I will now continue his story with As I Walked Out one Midsummer Morning.
    Thank you again for your fabulous notes.

  2. Susannah Fullerton

    I also listened to Laurie Lee reading it himself, which was a wonderful experience. His prose is just so beautiful. I am really glad you found my notes helpful. ‘Cider with Rosie’ has proved one of my most popular choices this year.

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