Cider with Rosie (Nonpareil Book)
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One of eight children, Laurie Lee was born in 1914, in Slad, Gloucestershire, then a remote corner of England. As his father was absent, the large family--five children from his father's first marriage and three from his second one was brought up by his capable mother. "We lived where he had left us; a relic of his provincial youth; a sprawling cumbersome, countrified brood too incongruous to carry with him; and I, for one, scarcely missed him. I was perfectly content in this world of women . . . bullied and tumbled through the hand-to-mouth days, patched or dressed-up, scolded, admired, swept off my feet in sudden passions of kisses, or dumped forgotten among the unwashed pots."
Lee's memoir opens when he was just a baby younger than three years old and ends as he becomes a young man experiencing his first kiss. "I turned to look at Rosie. She was yellow and dusty with buttercups and seemed to be purring in the gloom; her hair was rich as a wild bee's nest and her eyes were full of stings. I did not know what to do about her, nor did I know what not to do. She looked smooth and precious, a thing of unplumbable mysteries, and perilous as quicksand."
This beloved classic describes a lost world, a world reflecting the innocence and wonder of childhood, and illuminating an era without electricity or telephones. This is England on the cusp of the modern era, but it could have been anywhere. This may explain why Cider with Rosie became an instant bestseller when it was published in 1959, selling over six million copies in the UK alone, and continues to be read by children and adults all over the world.
A charming look at the loss of innocence into a world of understanding.- The Midwest Book Review
half-hidden hovels way up at the ends of the valley – swept down each day to add to our numbers, bringing with them strange oaths and odours, quaint garments and curious pies. They were my first amazed vision of any world outside the womanly warmth of my family; I didn’t expect to survive it for long, and I was confronted with it at the age of four. The morning came, without any warning, when my sisters surrounded me, wrapped me in scarves, tied up my bootlaces, thrust a cap on my head, and
ever touch us. This was Sammy’s and Sixpence’s; the place past the sheepwash, the hide-out unspoiled by authority, where drowned pigeons flew and cripples ran free; where it was summer, in some ways, always. Summer was also the time of these: of sudden plenty, of slow hours and actions, of diamond haze and dust on the eyes, of the valley in post-vernal slumber; of burying birds out of seething corruption; of Mother sleeping heavily at noon; of jazzing wasps and dragonflies, haystooks and
invisible. ‘What about it, young lad? You and Jo – last night? Ho, yes! We seen you, arf! arf!’ A couple of cowmen had stopped me in the road; I denied it, but I wasn’t surprised. Sooner or later one was always caught out, but the thing was as readily forgotten; very little in the village was either secret or shocking, we merely repeated ourselves. Such early sex-games were formal exercises, a hornless charging of calves; but we were certainly lucky to live in a village, the landscape abounded
everyone’s eyes on the clock. We polished our hair with grease and water, and scrubbed ourselves under the pump. Being Sunday, there was a pound of large sausages for breakfast, fried black and bursting with fat. One dipped them in pepper and ate them in haste, an open prayer-book propped up by the plate. ‘Heavens alive, you’ll be late, our lad.’ Gobble, mumble, and choke. ‘What are you up to? Get a move on do.’ ‘Leave off – I’m learning the Collect.’ ‘What’s that you say?’
pavement before me, the violin under my chin. The first notes I played were loud and raw, like a hoarse declaration of protest, then they settled down and began to run more smoothly and to stay more or less in tune. To my surprise, I was neither arrested nor told to shut up. Indeed, nobody took any notice at all. Then an old man, without stopping, surreptitiously tossed a penny into my hat as though getting rid of some guilty evidence. Other pennies followed, slowly but steadily, dropped by