Cider With Rosie is one of those captivating reads that seizes your attention from the very first page, pulls you into a world that’s vivid and real and becomes like a beloved companion that you can’t stand to parted from. Laurie Lee writes with a confident and powerful voice, lulling his reader back in time to another world were community spirit prevails, horses and carts out number cars and buses and city life is a distant dream.
You could easily be mistaken for thinking that Cider With Rosie was in fact fiction, so poetic is lee’s writing. It is in fact however an autobiography told to a sporadic time frame exploring Lee’s life from the moment he moved to the county, his school years, his family bonds and the special relationship he shares with his home village. Lee seems less concerned with giving a solid and ordered portrayal of his life and more inspired by recounting the many cherished memories of the past.
He recounts with warmth his eccentric but close family and their many collective habits and rituals. The book is full of heart warming memories of erratic family meals which were frugal but full of love. He dedicates a whole chapter to the memory of his mother and all of her endearing idiosyncrasies. He even spends another chapter describing with humour and wit the two wonderfully peculiar old ladies that live next to his cottage.
Although the book was written decades ago there is a timeless charm to the story and it’s easy to believe that many of the events of Lee’s youth happened only yesterday. Essentially the story is a coming of age tale, but unlike the many, many stories of this kind which have followed Cider With Rosie, this book wins with originality and a personal, intimate tone.
It feels less like a distant and impersonal story and more like a dear friend recounting their most important memories. Lee seems to emulate in his writing the spirit and soul of the village. The breezy, hazy summer days spent exploring country life are reflected back in the easy carefree but eloquent tone. I found lee’s voice soothing and gentle but also effective, I was transported through every stage of the book.
BOOK GROUP THOUGHTS
Given that I rarely have a book group were everyone enjoys the book I was surprised to find all my book groupers in happy agreement about Cider With Rosie. We all enjoyed the book and all agreed that the lyrical tone of Lee’s writing made for a pleasant and easy-going novel.
But sometimes you need a little diversity and disagreement to really get thing going and we sadly lacked the usual tug of war of opinion, each clinging onto our own unique reaction to the book.
As far as a book goes Cider With Rosie is a perfect novel to wile away the time. Nothing offends and the story is engaging to the last. But sometimes the very best books are the ones that evoke more than just pleasant memories and feelings. sometimes you need suspense, masterful plots and stories that stir your values. At least these are the perfect ingredients for a book group book.
And so we were all left happy with the novel but bereft of any fierce feelings. Some off course liked the book more than others, some found it simultaneously enjoyable but also a little lacklustre after all the praise surrounding the book.
Others cared not whether the book ticked certain literary checklists and just enjoyed the experience.
So what does everyone else think of Cider With Rosie? Did it blow you away? Or did it leave you a little disappointed? Or perhaps you were somewhere in the middle.
I loved the book and enjoyed dipping in and out of it at leisure,soaking up Lee’s prose. But I wouldn’t pick another of Lee’s books for a book group, for me my Cider With Rosie Journey was personal and intimate, I can’t quite explain why I resonated so strongly with his childhood and experiences, but resonate I did.