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Cider With Rosie (The Autobiographical Trilogy Book 1) (English Edition) Kindle-editie
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Of course, I had to remedy this oversight, so one-click order I did and was soon settled into a memoir of one of England’s beloved sons I hadn’t even known existed. But after the first chapter, I admit I didn’t know if it was love or hate.
Three-year-old Laurie sits on the floor of his new home amidst the chaos of moving a family of seven into a new cottage in the village of Slad. Little Laurie was surrounded by “glass fishes, china dogs, shepherds and shepherdesses, bronze horsemen, stopped clocks, barometers, and photographs of bearded men”. His sisters and mother bustle in and out of the house; his brothers help unload the handcart. Lee’s prose was over-rich, I thought—awash in adjectives and adverbs; drowning in lists. I almost put the memoir aside.
But after another chapter, Lee grew on me. His rich narrative seemed to mirror the lush countryside and the hub-bub that was his home. I settled into those lists and that descriptive prose. Like this: “That kitchen, worn by our boots and lives, was scruffy, warm, and low, whose fuss of furniture seemed never the same but was shuffled each day” and this: “These were the … rocks of our submarine life, each object worn smooth by our constant nuzzling, or encrusted by lively barnacles, relics of birthdays and dead relations, wrecks of furniture long since foundered …” It’s definitely not my style and not what I’d usually choose, but I’m happy I did.
Cider With Rosie let me peek into a world that no longer exists—grannies who lived as neighbors for decades, yet
Rosebank Cottage, Slad
Rosebank Cottage, Slad
never spoke; sisters who decorated their hats with bits and bobs; a picnic caravanned to a just perfect spot in the woods; a school teacher quick to smack boys upside the head; sleeping five to a room in quilt-deep beds; a bottle of shared cider and a stolen kiss under a field wagon.
Lee went on to write two more memoirs of his life and a few books of poetry. I was able to find a wonderful interview with Lee on the BBC—his recollections follow the book closely—which makes a great companion listen.
Cider With Rosie should probably be read when the time is just right, like a hazy summer afternoon or a blustery winter night … or anytime, really, when the edges of the world outside become blurred and you could oh-so-easily fade into the English countryside.
[read more at thisismysymphony.net]
“It was soon after this that my sister Frances died. She was a beautiful, fragile, dark-curled child, and my Morher’s only daughter. Though only four, she used to watch me like a nurse, sitting all day beside my cot and talking softly in a special language. Nobody noticed that she was dying herself, they were too much concerned with me. She died suddenly, silently, without complaint, in a chair in the corner of the room. An ignorant death which need never have happened – and I believe that she gave me her life.”
I loved the scenes at the village school. The country festivals. The story of all his uncles. Cider with Rosie under the wagon. Most of all I hated the father and wanted terrible things to happen to him for abandoning his family, and yet the mother’s reaction to his death and the horrible realization that her fantasies that he'd return and they’d spend their final days together were finally and forever torn asunder…well, I just wanted to fold her up in my arms and let her mourn all her dashed dreams.
I’ve read a number of very fine books this year, and this is one of the best.
I am not usually one who notices how words are put together when I read a book. However, in Cider with Rosie I couldn't help but feel how the most perfect words and phrases were chosen for almost every paragraph. Scenes were created in my mind that made me almost feel I was there about 100 years ago. My heart broke for Laurie Lee's mother who never doubted her husband would come back to her--until she heard he was dead.
How wonderful there are more books in this series. I have them all on my Kindle, but am not sure about reading further Lee books on that device.