by Laurie Lee, 1959
First of all, Laurie Lee is a male! This is his story of growing up in a Cotswold village in the 1920s. He transports you there. You can feel the summer heat, the icy winter, the mud, the grass, the trees, the cottage he grew up in with his 6 siblings and precious Mom, their delight in the simple pleasures of life: food, community, fun, song, old people, stories of the past, school, outings, and first loves. The “Cider with Rosie” doesn’t occur until almost the end of the book, when a young vixen lures him under her hay wagon with a jug of apple cider.
You really feel what it was like to grow up in an English country village in the 1920s. Life was hard but you were surrounded by the beautiful, satisfying pleasures only God can give. At one point near the end, he and his friends were going to rape a poor girl. But they didn’t, thank God. The temptation was there, though, and he shows how evil is right there with us, but it didn’t win.
Really good book.
This was one of the recommendations on the Book-A-Day calendar for 2021 that Christie gave me. Here is how they described it:
A Cotswold Childhood
In Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee recounts his coming-of-age in vivid prose. Home life with a brood of siblings, school life with an assortment of fellow students, imaginative life in its wonder, perplexity, and desperate innocence–all pass before us, not just recalled but quickened with a youthful eye and enthusiasm. Lee embellishes his tune of family and village life with lyrical evocations of the fitful energies of adolescence, portraying with care the seasoned existence that would soon vanish from his Cotswold valley as the 20th century took hold of it: “I belonged to that generation which saw, by chance, the end of a thousand years’ life.” In its language and its yearnings, this is among the most beautiful books you’ll ever read.