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
were limpet chums; they sat holding hands all day; and there was a female self-possession about their pink sticky faces that made me shout angrily at them. Vera was another I studied and liked; she was lonely, fuzzy, and short. I felt a curious compassion for stumpy Vera; and it was through her, and no beauty, that I got into trouble and received the first public shock of my life. How it happened was simple, and I was innocent, so it seemed. She came up to me in the playground one morning and
had to be both young and nimble, for if he missed her she piled up by the police-station. Our Mother was a buffoon, extravagant and romantic, and was never wholly taken seriously. Yet within her she nourished a delicacy of taste, a sensibility, a brightness of spirit, which though continuously bludgeoned by the cruelties of her luck remained uncrushed and unembittered to the end. Wherever she got it from, God knows – or how she managed to preserve it. But she loved this world and saw it fresh
up and crushed a glass like a nut between his hands, then held them out laughing for all to see his wounds. But the blood was lost in the general light of blood. Two other men came waltzing out of the door, locked in each other’s arms. Fighting and cursing, they fell over the wall and rolled down the bank in the dark. There was a screaming woman we could not see. ‘Jimmy! Jimmy!’ she wailed. ‘Oh, Jimmy! Thee s’ll kill ’im! I’ll fetch the vicar, I will! Oh, Jimmy!’ ‘Just ’ark at ’em,’ said
to stare at the policemen. Meanwhile, we boys just picked up and ran; we had a world of mud to deal with. The shops and streets ended suddenly, a frontier to the works of man; and beyond – the mud, salt winds, and birds, a kind of double ration of light, a breathless space neither fenced nor claimed, and far out a horizon of water. We whinnied like horses and charged up and down, every hoof-mark written behind us. If you stamped in this mud, you brought it alive, the footprint began to speak, it
visit before going to bed. ‘Ma says anything else you want?’ Squirming, coy, a strip of striped pyjamas, Miss Sweater Girl of ten years later – already she knew how to stand, how to snuggle against the doorpost, how to frame her flannel-dressed limbs in the lamplight. Once the children were in bed, other sounds took over, mysterious but soon familiar. Beth down at the sink, mangling the evening’s wash or chopping up piles of sandwiches for the morning. Mrs Flynn, in pale fur, leaving for the