This international-bestselling memoir of childhood in post–World War I rural England is one of the most endearing portraits of youth in all literature.
Three years old and wrapped in a Union Jack to protect him from the sun, Laurie Lee arrived in the village of Slad in the final summer of the First World War. The cottage his mother had rented for three and sixpence a week had neither running water nor electricity, but it was surrounded by a lovely half-acre garden and, most importantly, it was big enough for the seven children in her care. It was here, in a verdant valley tucked into the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, that Laurie Lee learned to look at life with a painter’s eye and a poet’s heart—qualities of vision that, decades later, would make him one of England’s most cherished authors.
In this vivid recollection of a magical time and place, water falls from the scullery pump “sparkling like liquid sky.” Autumn is more than a season—it is a land eternally aflame, like Moses’s burning bush. Every midnight, on a forlorn stretch of heath, a phantom carriage reenacts its final, wild ride. And, best of all, the first secret sip of cider, “juice of those valleys and of that time,” leads to a boy’s first kiss, “so dry and shy, it was like two leaves colliding in air.”
An instant classic when it was first published in 1959, Cider with Rosie is one of the most endearing and evocative portraits of youth in all of literature. The first installment in an autobiographical trilogy that includes As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment of War, it is also a heartfelt and lyrical ode to England, and to a way of life that may belong to the past, but will never be forgotten.