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.
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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
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.
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