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4.5 out of 5 stars39
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on 2 November 2000
The domestic routine,seasonal farming activities ,character observations and personal fantasies recorded in this wonderful book by the country child of the title, Susan Garland, provide a deeply satisfying account of farming life at the close of the 19th Century as witnessed by a solitary little girl. This is a heart-warming story,exquisitely detailed, funny and moving in turn. Alison Uttley's autobiographical evocation of the hill farm of her childhood will stay in the memory of both children and adults who are interested in rural life, social history or simply a story well told. I was 18 when I first encountered this book. I adored it and have re-read it numerous times, seeing more to enjoy in the text every time. The simple illustrations are perfectly suited to the content and add to the charm of this delightful book. I recommend it to anyone as an antidote to the materialism and mass-production of modern life.
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on 5 July 2006
I read this book as a 12-year-old Texan living in Edinburgh, and it has stayed with me over a quarter of a century. It's the story of a year in a 9-year old girl's life on her family's farm in Victorian-era England. Little Susan Garland is an only child, highly imaginative, and used to keeping herself entertained. The descriptions of life on the farm, her walks to school, the farm animals, the holidays, are intensely vivid, and it brought late 19th century rural England alive to a 1970's American city girl.

A sample paragraph from the chapter "December":

"Holly decked every picture and ornament. Sprays hung over the bacon and twisted round the hams and herb bunches. The clock carried a crown on his head, and every dish-cover had a little sprig. Susan kept an eye on the lonely forgotten humble things, the jelly moulds and colanders and nutmeg graters, and made them happy with glossy leaves. Everything seemed to speak, to ask for its morsel of greenery, and she tried to leave out nothing."

It's not for everyone: children who want a lot of adventure in their books, or who prefer books with a lot of interaction between characters may find it boring.
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on 11 January 2007
This book captivated me as a child for it's atmosphere steeped in ancientness and the mysteries of the deep countryside.

Susan - the country child - was born and brought up in an old farmhouse in remote Darbyshire, which had been in her family for hundreds of years. All the furniture had been handed down through generations and seemed to speak to her. The routine of life on the farm hadn't changed all that much either. In the summer, Irish workers came to harvest the fields and brought their strange accents and ways, and songs. At Christmas the mummers came and acted out their old and ancient rhymes, as they had always done, since nobody knows when. It's intriguing to read about her family, farming on the steep hillside. I used to long to have that background of tradition and life carrying on the same - far away from modernness.

Susan wasn't a very ordinary girl - she was sensitive to subtle things. She listened to the trees and the wind and the hills. And she was imaginative. The Country Child captures her inner life.
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on 2 November 2000
The domestic routine,seasonal farming activities ,character observations and personal fantasies recorded in this wonderful book by the country child of the title, Susan Garland, provide a deeply satisfying account of farming life at the close of the 19th Century as witnessed by a solitary little girl. This is a heart-warming story,exquisitely detailed, funny and moving in turn. Alison Uttley's autobiographical evocation of the hill farm of her childhood will stay in the memory of both children and adults who are interested in rural life, social history or simply a story well told. I was 18 when I first encountered this book. I adored it and have re-read it numerous times, seeing more to enjoy in the text every time. The simple illustrations are perfectly suited to the content and add to the charm of this delightful book. I recommend it to anyone as an antidote to the materialism and mass-production of modern life.
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on 14 March 2003
A beautifully written book, based on Alison Uttley's own childhood, growing up on a farm near Cromford in Derbyshire in the early 1900's. A very gentle read, full of fascinating information about life in another age.
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on 20 March 2009
This is just THE most lovely, autobiographical, book evoking a by-gone age of peace and the supereme beauty of our countryside through the eyes of a young girl. I was taken away to another simpler, happier world. I'm going to carry this book around with me in my handbag, and when I get stressed I'm going to take it out and go Phew....!!! Life is SO worthwhile and beautiful after all, isn't it!!

If you enjoy this book, do read "A Traveller in TIme", by the same author, and also "The Scent of Water" by Elizabeth Goudge, and possibly "The Children's Hour" by Marcia Willet.
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on 25 January 2007
I first read this wonderful little book as a nine year old brimming with imagination.I still have that first copy, split at the seams and yellowing badly, thirty eight years later. The story has stayed with me always. When I attempted to find a copy for my daughter ten years ago, when she was also nine, I was unable to find one and was told it was out of print. I was delighted to find it again on Amazon by accident.

It is testament to the storytelling ability of Uttley-and, despite what other reviewers say-her sensitive,childlike telling of the story that it so vividly memorable. It is a story of imagination rather than harsh reality-and it is magical because of it.
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on 23 May 2013
Warning: this review contains spoilers.

This is a delightful, charming book; a year on a farm in the last years of the 19th century as seen through the eyes of the narrator, Susan Garland.

The book is not a nostalgic wallow. The harshness of country life is not shied away from. The rigors of a harsh winter are well portrayed; the frozen chapped hands, the biting wind.

Uttley is very good at describing the effects of light - moonlight illuminating a room or an oil lamp casting shadows on walls.

In some of her descriptions of the natural world, there is a sense that Uttley is merely compiling a list. The better parts of the book are those with a more human element to them; a visit to the circus, harvest time, an impromptu tea party.

And yet, overall, the reader is not fully drawn into this world. Susan is a loner, a curiously uninvolved girl in the work of the farm. The reader is an observer, as though he was looking at an old photograph or painting. Maybe this is what the author wanted to convey.

Helpful hint: do have a dictionary to hand. There is a lot of rural terminology and archaic words.

I bought this book by chance in a second hand bookshop. I had not heard of it before and fell under its spell completely. It is an absorbing reading experience.
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This is an absolute gem of a book which as a twelve year old my class had to read aloud at school. First published in 1931, it is the story of a year in the life of nine year old Susan Garland, an only child who lives on an isolated hill top farm. Her friends are the trees, animals and farm hands. Susan sets out alone every morning on a sometimes frightening four mile walk to school. Her life was so very different to ours, in tune with the seasons, with local superstition side by side with regular church going - when Sunday was an enforced day of rest. Pigs were slaughtered, rabbits scythed down by mowers, there was butter making, everthing edible was picked, stored, and bottled. Horses pulled hay wains, local visits were made by horse and trap, there were visits to the circus and wakes. Alison Uttley, with the help of the beautiful illustrations of C F Tunnicliffe, has captured a natural world which has now very sadly disappeared. This is one book I will never part with.
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on 30 September 2013
I remember reading this book as a first year pupil in Grammar school. I recalled the child's walk to school four miles there and then back again at seven year's of age. I discovered last year that the author Alison Uttley was a graduate at Manchester University in Physics. My interest grew as my son was studying Physics and has since got in to Manchester University. It was an absolute delight to read because it captures a completely lost era but a tangible link as Alison Uttley died in the 20th century and she was describing life in the 19th and here we are in the 21st. A must to see how things have changed!
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