|The Cotswolds are in the west of England, facing the Southern Welsh border. Cider with Rosie is the story of a childhood spent in this region.|
Cider with Rosie (1959)
by Laurie Lee
Most of English literature is about London or about people who live in London. Characters tend to be upper class or the educated middle class, with relatively few belonging to either the rural or urban working classes. Thus, Cider with Rosie, which concerns the poetic boyhood of a boy in the Cotswolds, in the west of England near the southern Welsh border, is as novel as the authors of emerging areas like Africa, South America and Asia. The characters in Cider with Rosie live not 200 miles from central London, but they might as well be from Mars.
Lee's flowery prose betrays his background in poetry. Calling the text "poetic" doesn't quite do it justice. Lyrical, perhaps? Which is not to say that Lee suger-coats or romanticizes the area, going so far as to describe the planned gang rape of a mentally challenged young woman at the hands of the narrator and his friends. A plan which thankfully for the reader, does not come off. Cider with Rosie continues to maintain an Audience in England, where it was adapted for television as recently as October of last year. In America, I'm sure no one reads it, I read a "Time Magazine" edition printed 40 years ago. In fact, it doesn't really appear to be in print in the United States- with the exception of a small-press edition from 2014 you are looking at buying a mass market paperback version from 1982!