- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.; Reprint edition (27 Nov. 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393022331
- ISBN-13: 978-0393022339
- Product Dimensions: 25.7 x 19.6 x 2.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,031,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Lee: as I Walked out One Midsummer Morning Hardcover – 27 Nov 1985
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Top Customer Reviews
On the face of it a simple coming of age story, that of a young man leaving home to walk around Spain. A very layman's view of it, as this however is written for the poet inside us. Wonderful language for a long lost age where you really could abandon yourself completely and travel in its purest sense.
Beware though as this book may make you want to give it all up and set off with your knapsack
Lee is a poetic writer with an eye for detail that unfussily evokes a time and place, for example (p119): "Somewhere here, in a barn, under a roof crusted with swallows' nests, a mother and daughter cooked me a supper of eggs, while a horse watched me eating, chickens walked on the table, and an old man in the hay lay dying." In an age where travel has become commoditized, this is a book to remind you of the exhilaration of the open road, of meeting strangers and viewing far-away places with an unjaundiced eye.
It is 1934 and Laurie Lee, the author, is a young man. He leaves the security of his Cotswold home to embark on an adventure.
Initially he travels to London and ekes out an existence by playing the violin and by labouring on a London building site. He decides to go to Spain. It seems a rash decision because the young lad's choice of destination is based on the fact that he knows a phrase of Spanish - "¿Puede por favor dame un vaso de agua?" - "Will you please give me a glass of water?"
For a year, he tramps through Spain, from Vigo in the north to Almuñécar on the south coast. During this voyage, he experiences a country that ranges from utter desolation to extreme beauty. He manages to eat by a earning a few pesetas playing his violin. He sleeps at night in his blanket under an open sky or in a cheap, rough posada though occasionally he is rewarded with the warm and generous hospitality of poor village people that he meets along the way.
Laurie Lee provides the reader with a vivid account of life in Spain during the bleak years leading up to the Spanish Civil War. I enjoy reading travel books, especially those about Spain. "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning" is as good as any I have read even though many of the places he visits - Vigo, Valladolid, Cádiz, Tarifa - are described as squalid, dark, decrepit, acrid, and scruffy. Even Seville is both "dazzling and squalid" according to the author. He does praise some of the places he visits- Toro, Segovia, Toledo - who wouldn't!Read more ›
At once visceral, heartfelt, honest, bursting with humanity and in some part disturbing, this account of a young man's walk through the Spain of the 1930s is a vicarious experience that transports the reader into an unforgettable but lost world.
There are occasions when Lee seems to have arrived at truly momentous turning points. After crossing the Guadarrama peaks he first sees Madrid in the plain of La Mancha and his knowledge of Spain is to become transformed by his experience of the capital. And then later, when he meets a Spanish sailor who portentiously warns "I don't know who you are, but if you want to see blood, stick around -you're going to see plenty."
Lee's politics are not overtly expressed, but his love of the people and their way of life is clear. Written later and first published in 1969, a lesser writer would have a built in nostalgia for a lost ideal, but not so here. His record of the Spanish rural way of life is far from idealistic.
This is a book that I would recommend to all readers, young and old alike, and is one of the best books that I have ever read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having read Cider with Rosie thought I'd try the next book - an excellent read well written with word pictures that describe the place or situation. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Isla
A road story which is poetically lyrical but repetitive in contentPublished 26 days ago by Clare Sayers
a long standing classic for book group - pleased to have it back on the shelfPublished 1 month ago by cheryl belcher
looking forward to reading it so much after reading Cider with RosiPublished 4 months ago by tacuman41