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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2009
This is a wholly original poem of love to the Cotswold farm where the author spent her wartime childhood, to the people who lived there, the horses and dogs they loved, and to every stone and hedge. Bingley has an incredibly vivid recall of the sights and sounds of her early life and they spring off the page as fresh as if they were only yesterday. In the end it is the sad story of a difficult marriage, with the author caught between her beloved parents, both of them brave and admirable in their different ways, but quite incompatible. Very original and quite unforgettable.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 28 September 2007
I came accross this book by pure chance and it was like finding a pearl in an oyster. I love this book and the style that Xandra Bingley used, it gave me a real sense of time. The descriptions were so detailed and I have to say when I finished I really missed Xandra and her family. The social contrasts of the time were enlightening to someone who didn't live through the period. A rare find indeed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 2013
This book encapsulates how it was to be a fairly privileged child in wartime England. It is also full of anecdote and incident, with plenty of emotional pull. Highly recommended.
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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2006
Although this book is not without a certain charm, I was baffled by the fulsome praise it received from the press, much of which was, in my eyes, unjustified.

The narrative is in the present tense, which is presumably intended to convey that the story was written as events happened, but is surprisingly distracting and prevents any real rhythm from emerging. Even diaries, which are of course written in the present, aren't exclusively or even mainly written in the present tense. There is also a kind of staccato, disjointed element to the writing which I found to be annoying.

The photographs are charming and help create an authentic atmosphere of the period. There are also quite a lot of isolated desciptions of places, people and objects that are delightful. Overall though, unusual as the book is, nothing saves it from being lightweight and hard to get involved in.
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on 18 October 2013
I adored this book. The conversation censored to how a child would hear it..the detail painted in Crystal clarity. I am in my 60s and am not sure that anyone younger would entirely understand the atmosphere and references, though I hope so.
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on 25 October 2014
An excellent book. Enjoyed by my Mother and Aunt too, who know the area, and come from a farming background. Interesting, informative and humorous.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 9 July 2012
I bought this book on the strength of good reviews by, among others, John Carey, a critic whose judgement I would usually trust, and Diana Athill for whom I have enormous respect. Before I had got round to reading it my mother also recommended it (she is 92) and our tastes in reading tend to be similar.

The book is set in and around the Cotswolds, not far from where I live, mainly in the war years (WW2), a period I find interesting. But the style is extremely irritating. I could live with the present-tense narrative which has the effect of giving immediacy to the conversations and events, but the device of stringing word and phrases together with series of ellipses (dot-dot-dot), especially for quoted speech, drove me mad. Example: I say . . . You said hold on . . . I'm all stung . . . She says . . . Be brave . . . no bad damage done . . . I'll put vinegar on your stings . . . that'll calm them down.

This may be an original way of presenting dialogue and events but for me it soon began to jar and interrupt the flow of the narrative. A shame because there is an interesting story to be told here but I found it lacked fluency. The photographic illustrations scattered in the text are charming, but without captions, so one is left wondering whether these are the actual people mentioned in the text or just evocative representations of their type, time and milieu.

The countryside and the hardships endured during that time are brought to life quite well, and there is perhaps an over-emphasis on all things horsey, so it might appeal more to riders.

I found myself skim-reading it towards the end, simply wanting to know what happened in the last chapter, which I was warned by a quote on the back cover would "move me to tears". It didn't.
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on 10 March 2015
good
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