Looking for an absorbing and relaxing read to help you recover from the stress of university life over Christmas? Regular writer Chloe Glassonbury’s got it covered…
Laurie Lee’s autobiographical novel Cider with Rosie is a perfect form of escapism. Set in a rural Cotswold village just outside of Stroud, Gloucestershire, the book takes a relaxed, winding journey through Lee’s childhood memories. Like Lee, I have grown up in Gloucestershire, and was delighted by his descriptions of the county in the early-twentieth century; the life of the inhabitants was one of endearing simplicity, and the pastoral charm that is still present in a few areas today was then ubiquitous. The novel captures this rural world through the adventurous eyes of boyhood. Initially offering a wide-eyed, bewildered view of early life within the ramshackle cottage, Lee develops gradually into a teenage boy, venturing further into the wildlife and village-life around him. Throughout the twisting journey of Lee’s early life in the Cotswolds, the narration never fails to retain a tinge of childhood innocence, which gives the novel a beautiful sense of wonder.
Unarguably, the stand-out feature of Cider with Rosie is the imagery. On nearly every page is a description of almost poetical beauty, which conjures up a world both vivid and magical. It is only with writing as sublime as Lee’s that a novel can be engaging despite not having a real plot. Rather than a traditional story with a start, middle and end, Cider with Rosie is structured around a series of themes. In place of a linear plot, Lee tells us a series of anecdotes related to different aspects of his early life: ‘village life’, ‘winter and summer’ and ‘outings and festivals’, amongst others. This unconstrained and somewhat haphazard method of storytelling is truly fitting for the tranquil, word-of-mouth village setting of the novel. Thanks to this unorthodox structure, Cider with Rosie is a book that you can come back to and pick up at any time; a relaxed and easy read, as opposed to an all-consuming, can’t-put-it-down affair.
Cider with Rosie is the perfect literary escape. The life told in its pages is relaxed and uncomplicated, a welcome antithesis to the stressful university lifestyle. Told through a child’s eyes, but with the literary mastery of a truly great author, you can’t help but remember your own outdoor childhood adventures as you read it. Save it for the Christmas holidays, read it snuggled up in an armchair in front of a fire, and relax into Lee’s vivid rural world.
Chloe Glassonbury, Books Teambookmark me