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Old 03-10-2017, 07:22 PM   #1
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Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

At all times wonderfully evocative and poignant, Cider With Rosie is a charming memoir of Laurie Lee's childhood in a remote Cotswold village, a world that is tangibly real and yet reminiscent of a now distant past.

In this idyllic pastoral setting, unencumbered by the callous father who so quickly abandoned his family responsibilities, Laurie's adoring mother becomes the centre of his world as she struggles to raise a growing family against the backdrop of the Great War.

The sophisticated adult author's retrospective commentary on events is endearingly juxtaposed with that of the innocent, spotty youth, permanently prone to tears and self-absorption.

Rosie's identity from the novel Cider with Rosie was kept secret for 25 years. She was Rose Buckland, Lee's cousin by marriage. (Goodreads)

This is the MR Literary Club selection for March 2017. Whether you've already read it or would like to, feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time, and guests are always welcome! So, what are your thoughts on it?



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Old 03-10-2017, 11:54 PM   #2
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I'm about 40 pages in. My new book club strategy is to put any older selection aside if I haven't finished it yet and start the newer one on time. This was a bit twee at first and I almost can't believe the town was chock-full of so many colourful characters, but I can't deny that it's very readable. I like his sense of humour which often has me chuckling so far, such as:

Quote:
‘What’s this?’ I said. ‘You’re starting school today.’ ‘I ain’t. I’m stopping ’ome.’ ‘Now, come on, Loll. You’re a big boy now.’ ‘I ain’t.’ ‘You are.’ ‘Boo-hoo.’ They picked me up bodily, kicking and bawling, and carried me up to the road. ‘Boys who don’t go to school get put into boxes, and turn into rabbits, and get chopped up Sundays.’ I felt this was overdoing it rather, but I said no more after that.
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Old 03-11-2017, 05:28 AM   #3
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Old 03-11-2017, 06:16 AM   #4
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Old 03-11-2017, 07:44 AM   #5
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Old 03-13-2017, 07:13 PM   #6
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Apologies everyone - we have had a big week with a 90th birthday party and family staying here, so I was trying to do things in and between entertainment of guests etc.

Right - back to the book itself! You can tell straight away that Laurie Lee was a poet, can't you. I loved this description of the cottage on the day of the family's arrival, when his mother was bringing in:

Quote:
Flowers from the garden, daisies from the bank, cow-parsley, grasses, ferns, and leaves - they flowed in armfuls through the cottage door until its dim interior seemed entirely possessed by the world outside - a still green pool flooding with honeyed tides of summer.
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Old 03-16-2017, 06:36 PM   #7
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Apologies everyone - we have had a big week with a 90th birthday party and family staying here, so I was trying to do things in and between entertainment of guests etc.

Right - back to the book itself! You can tell straight away that Laurie Lee was a poet, can't you. I loved this description of the cottage on the day of the family's arrival, when his mother was bringing in:
The poetic quality is certainly beautiful. The opening section reminded me a bit of Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales in its exuberant imagery. Later sections are like different stanzas exploring the moods of the narrator as he tells us of the "Grannies in the Wainscot," the suicide and murder, and the evocation of his amazing mother.

It is a memoir to savour.

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Old 03-17-2017, 05:48 AM   #8
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Yes fantasyfan, it is reminiscent of Dylan Thomas. I was reminded of him in this passage, as Lee described the kitchen:

Quote:
There were also six tables of different sizes, some armchairs gapingly stuffed, boxes, stools, and unravelling baskets, books and papers on every chair, a sofa for cats, a harmonium for coats, and a piano for dust and photographs.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:02 PM   #9
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Cider with Rosie is on sale today in the US at all the usual places for $2.99 (or $2.79 for Kobo VIP members).
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:24 PM   #10
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Cider with Rosie is on sale today in the US at all the usual places for $2.99 (or $2.79 for Kobo VIP members).
I had borrowed the book from Scribd but would prefer an eink version.



EDIT: It was $2.51 at Amazon US.

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Old 03-18-2017, 11:19 PM   #11
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I had borrowed the book from Scribd but would prefer an eink version.



EDIT: It was $2.51 at Amazon US.
I got the price from the Open Road email, I hadn't realized that Amazon had dropped it to $2.51. It's probably too late for you now, but since you also have a Kobo ereader, you can price match it at Kobo, for an effective price of $2.26. I guess I'm going to have to start double-checking prices at Amazon when I pick up one of the Open Road sale books.
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Old 03-19-2017, 03:42 PM   #12
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I am about 25% through the book and enjoying the beautiful language so far. I recently picked up his book A Rose for Winter: Travels in Andalusia in Open Road Media's mega-sale of free books. That's what inspired me to nominate this book.

The Guardian had an interesting perspective in this article:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/19...1/robertmccrum
Quote:
When Cider With Rosie was eventually published, to astounding success in 1960, it was an autobiography notable for the fact that it stopped when its hero was 23, the year he left his native Gloucestershire. Laurie Lee was then 45. He would write nothing to match it ever again. In his prime he was known as a poet who had written a book, but in the end he would be known simply as a prose writer who had formerly written poems.
After I finish this book, I would like to continue on with his autobiographical series. I found this article which compares/contrasts his books to those of Leigh Fermor which the book club read a few years ago. It also makes this statement about the differences between his first and second books.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...ert-macfarlane
Quote:
If the power of Cider With Rosie derives from its dream of dwelling, the power of As I Walked Out derives from its dream of leaving. If only I could live forever in one place, and come to know it so well, you think, reading Lee's first volume of memoir. If only I could step from my front door, walk away and just keep going, you think, reading his second.
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:17 PM   #13
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Thanks for these links, Bookworm-girl - both very interesting. Like you, I now want to read his other books.

Thanks so much for nominating it - I enjoyed it very much indeed.
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:36 PM   #14
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I read this over the last couple of days (wife and I are sailing for 3-4 weeks at the moment so have plenty of reading time but not much internet :-)) and it was among the most enjoyable autobiographies I have read for some time. It also presented an interesting picture of life in an isolated English village and its people around 1920 where a 5 mile walk was the radius of familiarity and communication (it turns out that in a country where no where is very far from the sea, Lee had never seen the sea until he headed to Spain in his follow on autobiography).

A few of my observations:

For me Lee's prose rolls along very nicely with well balanced sentences, and his wide but non-grating nor hackneyed use of figurative language, often in short tight sentences, gave the book its special value from a reading perspective. I think that in the like of the chapter "Winter and Summer" where, in my view, Lee borders on running away with himself with the use of metaphors, similes, and onomatopoeia, but succeeds; many writers, I feel, would have turned out a pretentious job if they tried to emulate him.

Lee comes across in his writing here, to me, as being a person of good humour with a positive and balanced outlook and, for example, that is typified in the "Winter and Summer" chapter where winter was just as enjoyable for him as summer despite rigors the like of "Wash-basins could freeze, icicles hang from the ornaments, our bedrooms remained normally unheated..." This tone is present throughout the book. I could not help contrasting the writing from such a person with the recent read of "Mrs Dalloway" in which, for me, the tone and prose reeked of being a product and evidence of the author's personal real life psychotic episodes (so pseudo-autobiographical?) with the gloom of the tolling, the many allusions to waves (in which she eventually ended her life), etc. that I felt put the reader at risk of just being a voyeur, for reading enjoyment, of Woolf's mental illness.

Lee also, for me, gets away with the quite heavy nostalgia felt throughout the book; but in the end I think he demonstrates he is a realist not dislocated from change by, for example, in the last chapter balancing the death of the squire, the effects of the last days of village isolation, the family's fragmentation, etc. against the impending marriages and moving on of his sisters and the sense that he is ready to move on himself.

Furthermore, anticipating his moving on producing as good a read, I am now into Lee's follow on book "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning". It is quite different in that his use of figurative language is much subdued in comparison and having no real flavour of nostalgia, more weighted towards being a travel dialogue.
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Old 03-22-2017, 01:35 AM   #15
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Have now finished his "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning" and close to finishing "A Moment of War" also :-).
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