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Corduroy (A rural trilogy) Paperback – 29 May 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (29 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571240836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571240838
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 259,998 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.

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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By hobart@cwcom.net on 18 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
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 on 23 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
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 By Amazon Customer on 16 July 2002
Format: Paperback
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 By Ricky Dee on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
It was 1920, and Adrian Bell (Martin Bell's father, and the original setter of The Times crossword) was twenty years old. Flying from the threat of an office job as he writes himself, Adrian ended up trying life on a farm, in Suffolk. This memoir was published in 1930, and if you read the Preface you will see that names have been changed, but otherwise this is what he saw and experienced.

Being a Townie like so many of us, what Bell was expecting was definitely different to what he found. Turning up and looking out of place he found that the yokels weren't such, indeed they knew a lot that he would have to learn. Why this works and probably led to its being a bestseller in its day, is that this is more than just a book about farming. Bell had an acute eye and picked up on subtleties thus giving you a look at rural life in general. Of course when this was written mechanization was starting to make an appearance, but not how it would become during the Second World War, and the same with chemical fertilisers. The farm where Bell gained his experience was still using horses for a lot of work, and you get some idea of the difficulties of ploughing here. Also Bell takes in such things as markets and stock auctions, along with that now banned bloodsport, fox hunting.

Taking in and describing the life of the farmer and family and friends you get a feeling for the place and in some ways this is akin to a Hardy novel in that respect. Bell himself had difficulty in understanding the natives with their thick Suffolk accents. To us reading this today we can see how things have altered, and Bell's world was something that would soon disappear over the following years, but it still makes good reading.
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