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Cider with Rosie (Essential Penguin) Paperback – 3 Sep 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 389 customer reviews

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Paperback, 3 Sep 1998
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (3 Sept. 1998)
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • ISBN-10: 0140278729
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140278729
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 1.6 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (389 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,059,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"One of the great writers of the twentieth century."--"Independent ""An enchanting book, an exquisite farewell, not only to childhood, and boyhood, but also to an England that has vanished."--JB Priestly "Remains as fresh and full of joy and gratitude for youth and its sensations as when it first appeared.It sings in the memory"--"Sunday Times" "It has got... a marvellous morning freshness...There is hardly a sentence in it that does not set the sense of touch and smell, as well as sight and hearing, tingling"--"Daily Mail" "He had a nightingale inside him, a capacity for sensuous, lyrical precision"--"Guardian" "Lee was a poet whose deft passage into prose carried with it much of the rhythm and accuracy of the poet's language"--Mignon Khargie, Art Director of Salon

Review

one of Susan Hampshire's `Six Best Books': `utterly charming'
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"They said: `You're Laurie Lee, aren't you? Well just you sit there for the present.' I sat there all day but I never got it. I ain't going back there again." This is Laurie Lee's unforgettable description of his first day at school.

I have a special affection for this book, as my mother grew up in the Stroud area and was only two years younger than Laurie. Even if they didn't actually know each other, it is very likely that they met.

The story manages to be both lyrical and realistic. One minute it presents a childhood idyll, next you are faced with death - sometimes sad, sometimes brutal.

The core of the story is the life of Laurie's large and boisterous family, living in cheerful poverty in their Cotswold cottage, and above all his mercurial, warm-hearted mother (his father plays only a bit-part in events). "She was an artist, a light-giver, and an original, and she never for a moment knew it."

It is a common tendency to look back on the period of one's youth as a turning point in history, but when you read the last chapter you will understand Laurie's claim "The village had a few years left, the last of its thousand, and they passed almost without our knowing".

Rosie really did exist. Indeed, she outlived Laurie, and only three years ago she was interviewed by BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

There were two excellent TV adaptations of the story in 1971 and 1998, starring respectively Rosemary Leach and Juliet Stevenson, and both are available on DVD. There was a third adaptation in 2015, also out on DVD, but it is less true to the book's content and spirit.

The book is as golden as the cider of the title - read it and delight.
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Format: Paperback
"Never to be forgotten, that first long secret drink of golden fire, juice of those valleys and of that time, wine of wild orchards, of russet summer, of plump red apples, and Rosie's burning cheeks. Never to be forgotten, or ever tasted again...."
I challenge any reader not be moved by the poetry and the passion of the prose in this work. Truly a classic of the twentieth century.
Deeply evocative, one can almost feel the weight of a thousand years of history, slowly disappearing while the young Laurie Lee grows up, in a chaotic house with his memorable mother and the brothers and sisters from his father's first marriage as well as the second (the father himself having left for London). We see the full, glorious spectrum of village life, almost pagan in the way everything is bound up in the seasons and the rhythms of the earth.
A book to read and read again.
"I was set down from the carrier's cart at the age of three; and there with a sense of bewilderment and terror my life in the village began."
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The opening page of "Cider with Rosie" describes the world through the eyes of a toddler - mysterious, unpredictable, worryingly large. Laurie Lee's genius is to keep this magical, subjective, viewpoint intact throughout the book, growing as the author grows, understanding with each chapter more of the world he swims through, a wondering, innocent, cunning, superstitious presence. Although this book is often recommended for an insight into rural life a few decades ago - and by any standard, it is one of the best books on the subject - it is for his mastery of the "child's eye view" that we should respect the writer. He resists all temptations to be "cute", he refrains from commenting on his memories, he presents them to us in utter purity. By reading it, each of us, rural or not, is able to recapture the experience of being a small child.

Towards the latter part of the book, as the narrator matures and gains a more grown-up perspective, we see more of the darker side of his world, and at last understand that this is an elegy for something that Lee, even as he lived it, began to realise was slipping from his grasp. The emeotion we feel is not the sentimental nostalgia of TV's Lark Rise To Candleford, but Lee's own grief for what he cannot now recapture, except by writing this book.

"Cider with Rosie" will make you laugh and cry, but your feelings are never manipulated for effect. Every emotion you will feel is genuine and springs from deep wihin your own experience of being a child, and growing up. This edition, with the drawings by John Ward is the one to get - their nervous, unpolished line and strange quiet power make them the perfect companion to the words; they will send shivers down your spine.

For a factual, but equally magical picture of life in a Suffolk village just after the Second World War try Akenfield. For poems that will bring you something of the same feeling as Cider with Rosie, read A Shropshire Lad (Dover Thrift).
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Format: Paperback
Although Laurie Lee preferred to write poetry, he is best known for his prose: the trilogy of memoirs he wrote late in his life. "Cider with Rosie" is the first, detailing his childhood from the time he moves into his Gloucestershire home to just before he leaves to seek his fortune. His prose is extremely lyrical, especially when describing nature, his beloved mother and his three older half-sisters. Apart from the quality of the writing, "Cider with Rosie" should be read for the poetic descriptions of an England with few motorcars "where the horse was still king", agricultural communities that were able to function independently and hardly any interference from "the outside world".
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