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This little book describes the Andalucian journey Laurie Lee made with his wife Kati in winter of 1951-2. Published in 1955, it was his first book (not counting some earlier collections of verse), predating Cider with Rosie, his best-known work, by four years. He was to write about his Spanish travels again in his following book As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969), although that deals with an earlier journey. Comparing the two, the present book could be viewed as a more straightforward travelogue, presenting vividly evocative pictures of a handful of towns, the landscape and the people who live there.

I took this along to reread on a trip to Andalucia last week, and was very pleased I'd remembered to do so: to be able to, for example, read about how (p34) "Seville remains, favoured and sensual, exuding from the banks of its golden river a miasma of perpetual excitement" whilst sitting on the bus headed for that fair city created a tangible sense of expectation that was more than met by the experience of seeing Seville for the first time.
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In the 1950s Laurie Lee revisits Andalusia which he journeyed through in the 1930s, so eloquently described in his earlier book 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning'. Spain has changed, but not changed, under General Franco's dictatorship. This time, he is with his wife, Kati, and the shared journey offers a different dynamic to that earlier lone peregrination, one more lively and less contemplative, but still capturing essences and aura, the essential heart of Andalusian culture, in a way that few writers have done. Andalusia's character is more than flamenco and bull-fights (though Laurie Lee offers a fair share of these); it is deep, soulful, intense, historically complex, whose people have depths even Laurie Lee can only glimpse. But these glimpses are evocative and sensual, and revealing in details of shared meals with all the entrails of Spanish food, descriptions of beggar children, innkeepers and their families, religious ceremonies or feast days.

Laurie Lee's language itself is passionate and full of smouldering adjectives that conjure the dark-eyed Andalusian spirits: "A few brown girls stood motionless by a fountain, unspeaking, stilled with secrets. A few dark men stole quietly through archways and disappeared into the profound gloom of shuttered patios. A few dark eyes watched us through the grilles of windows. And a solitary beggar girl, with huge dumb eyes, followed us slowly with a smile." This is not the Spain of tourists but of back alleys, cheap taverns, artisanal areas, poverty-stricken towns and humiliated fishing villages. In the chapter 'Castillo of the Sugar Canes', Laurie Lee's own, profound, dismay seeing the effects of the Spanish Civil War and the results of Franco's destruction and grinding down of the country and its people are vividly evoked.

'A Rose For Winter' could be a deeply depressing book, but Laurie Lee lightens the mood often enough to restore hope and joy. His description of his and Kati's carriage ride through the Maria-Luisa park in Seville is a delight, and the Christmas Eve feast in Granada, while shot through with tragedy, still resonates with mirth and festiveness. Laurie Lee writes as he finds: the tragedy of Spain, the pride and the passion, are all there, brought into sharp focus through Lee's erudite vocabulary.

This book - as with the earlier volume - should be read by anyone loving Spain for its beauty, its stark contrasts, its wonderful history and heritage and wanting something different to the tourist trail. Andalusia could have no better proponent than Laurie Lee.
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on 30 March 2017
My favourite book of all time. So evocative.
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on 6 June 2017
Without a doubt the best form of escape, all the humour of being an Englishman abroad put into the poetic frame of 'going native'.
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on 26 July 2015
Quite simply a master class in English travel writing and a successor to 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning'. 'A Rose For Winter' is an account of a second visit to Spain fifteen years after the start of the Spanish Civil War. No need here, as is the case with so many modern travel writers, to begin by proclaiming oneself as a 'writer' with the use of devices that are nothing more than a substitute for genuinely creative writing. The quality of Lee`s work is so evocative that a short book such as this takes substantially longer to read because certain passages are so beguiling that one feels the need to revisit them repeatedly before the book is finished.

Many more examples have been subsequently been added to the genre of travel writing since the publication of 'A Rose for Winter' but few can hold a candle to it. If you have a love for Spain in particular and enjoy the experience of being enveloped by both poetic and
profoundly observant travel writing, then this book cannot be recommended too highly.
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on 30 December 2010
Although one of Lee's lesser known books it is a fascinating account of his return to Andalucia in early 1950s with his wife. He reminisces about his first stay in Spain and sees for him self what has changed during the intervening years in post civil war Spain. With his unique writing style, he magically transports the reader into the scene with his beautifully described images taking us on his journey throughout the province savouring the sights and smells alongside him. He is met with warmth and hospitality from the locals, many of whom are barely above the poverty line. His strong pounds went a long way in this Spanish era as he revisits the sites where he spent time in his youth. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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on 7 April 2013
A true classic with wonderful sweetly rolling passages that leave you mesmerised with their clarity and beauty. Tales of bull fights and flamenco are unmatched. Brilliant
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on 13 January 2013
Having lived in Spain for 10 years (although back in England now) I have been to most of the places mentioned in this book. Have also read his trilogy and I Can,t Stay Long.He has got the grasp of the Spanish psyche better than any other writer I know.
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on 4 March 2013
Everyone has heard of 'Cider with Rosie' but the remainder of the autobiographical set is often overlooked. This sequel to the main trilogy presents a much calmer view from an older man of his youthful exploits in Spain - a country which he clearly loves dearly and wants to show to his wife.

It won't make much sense without having read the earlier books.
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on 10 February 2009
Not the best of Lee's work, but nonetheless an outstanding example, like all his work, of what the craft of writing, of poetic description in prose, is all about and a unique insight of Civil War Spain.
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