Cider with Rosie: A Memoir – Laurie Lee

We are all bound to a place and time, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do a little armchair traveling, both in time and place. So it was with Cider with Rosie. I had the opportunity to live as a child in the early 1900s in a rural village in England. That child is Laurie Lee, the author of this book, who lived there from the age of three until he was eighteen. He lived in a cottage with his mother, seven brothers and sisters, and an absent father.

With no running water or electricity, it would seem to have been a harsh existence, but the author largely recalls his childhood as a happy time. Writing as he did several decades later, I’m sure his memory was hazed by time, but even then it does not sound like a bad place to have grown up.

My grandmother grew up about this time, too, having been born just before the turn of the century (that’s before the last century – before 1900). There were parallels between her life and the author’s, but living in a rural area in England definitely was different than Chicago in the U.S. Still, changes in technology and culture affected both to degree that is fascinating to me. I suppose, if I could have had grandchildren, that they would be hard pressed to imagine my early life with no microwave ovens, no cell phones, no computers, no internet, no . . . well, too many things to list!

If you would like to be transported back to what seems to be a more innocent time (it was not – it was at the end of the First World War) in rural England, I can recommend this book. In addition to writing his memoirs and other prose, Mr. Laurie was a poet, and his love and use of the English language is engaging throughout. Though I thought at times that his writing might have been just a bit overwrought, it was still a book well enjoyed.

Addendum – This book is the first of a trilogy of memoirs by the author. Mr. Lee also wrote As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (about his travels through Spain) and A Moment of War (his short time in Spain participating, or trying to participate, in the Spanish Civil War.) I will update this post with links to the other books as I read them.

Finished 8/31/16