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Corduroy [Paperback]

Adrian Bell
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Sep 2012

Adrian Bell (1901-1980) was born in Lancashire and grew up in London but wished for a life in the open air. In 1920 he apprenticed himself to a West Suffolk farmer, an experience that would inspire him to farm on his own. His celebrated trilogy Corduroy (1930), Silver Ley (1931) and The Cherry Tree (1932) grew out of that same raw material, and Corduroy (reissued here with an introduction by his son, the journalist Martin Bell) remains his most admired work.

'There is a vitality and freshness of manner about this modern pastoral which carries one easily along through a pleasant maze of turnips, mangolds, and the yearly routine of a Suffolk farm. As the seasons change and the crops come and go, the green young apprentice is gradually initiated into the mysteries of coaxing a hazardous living from the soil.' Spectator

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader's Quarterly (1 Sep 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1906562377
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906562373
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 11 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,509,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Adrian Bell (1901-1980) was born in Lancashire, grew up in London, and was educated at Uppingham School which he hated. His father, news editor of the Observer, was a republican and a socialist and had no truck with university education. His son was to do something useful; in 1920 he went to East Anglia to work as a farm apprentice. He subsequently became a farmer himself. These experiences provide the material for his famous rural trilogy, Corduroy, Silver Ley and The Cherry Tree. In total he wrote over twenty-five books, he also set the first Times in 1930 and continued to devise crosswords for the paper for the next thirty years. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reading 'Corduroy' was like having a holiday. 18 Oct 2000
Reading 'Corduroy' was rather like taking a hoiday or making a retreat. All rush and bustle was left behind as one entered the farming world of rural Suffolk of sixty years ago. Adrian Bell's restrained style as he chronicles life and work throughout the agricultural year presents a vivid picture of the slow and gentle rhythm of the farmers' year together with its happy and harsh times - no Utopia this! The characters are drawn with perception and kindness and by the end of the book I felt I had known them all my life. It was with tremendous reluctance I finished reading this book and emerged once more into the clamour of present day life.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The semi-fictionalised account of a young man's dream of farming in post WWI England (East Anglia). The writer, a city boy with pretensions to the artistic life of an aesthete, instead becomes apprenticed to a yeoman farming family in Suffolk.
The book follows his coming to terms with a new lifestyle and a radically different culture, the farming environment and the seasonal way of rural life, often with touching and comical results.
By the end of the novel the reader is caught up into his hopes for the future, the purchase of his own small farm and his love for the rhythm of the natural world, the farm and the community.
A fascinating account of a now-lost world; the change of farming methods and the changing post-war world is captured before their demise.
Followed by The Cherry Tree and Silver Lea.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
In the pastoral novel, revelations are generally mild. Rarely are they milder than in Adrian Bell's 'Corduroy':
"I learned that hereabout a wide ditch was termed a river, just as, in this country of no hills, a gradual slope was called a hill."
Bell's autobiographical novel is a serious meditation on the farmer's profession and of the Suffolk type in particular - both vanishing even as he wrote. A powerful, but never overpowering, defence of the humanity of traditional agricultural methods can be found in every chapter: "we, the humans, were vital parts of the machinery...agriculture needs legs and arms."
As we go back further into the past, all novels will invariably seem more 'pastoral'; the societies more organic, the reliance upon nature more fundamental. Nature, in short, seems more natural. Bell's style, however, is far more typical of 'cold pastoral': against Bell's best efforts to assure the reader otherwise, this first novel has the flavour (and occasional condescension) of the travelogue. For all this, Bell's nostalgaic anecdotes are wittily contrasted against the pragmatic approach of the Suffolk locals and yokels, and it is a pleasant read, if not as tightly plotted as other retrospective narratives of this hue, such as Laurie Lee's 'Cider With Rosie' and L.P. Hartley's 'The Go-Between'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corduroy 24 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent factual book about England between the two World Wars. It relates the real life story of those running and working on the land. A taste of village life and the very begining of the automation that would see the demise of the working horse.
I fully endorse the forward written by the author's well known son, Martin Bell news correspondent and later a trustworthy MP.
A book not to be missed that should be added to the 100 books to be read in a lifetime. I will now read the other works of the author.
If you enjoyed 'War Horse' you will enjoy this amble through the tranquil English Countryside. A thoroughly good read, highly recommended.
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