The writing is uneven. Occasionally I would come across a pretty line, but for the most part I found the writing ordinary,Why didn't I like this book?
The writing is uneven. Occasionally I would come across a pretty line, but for the most part I found the writing ordinary, unclear, pretentious or overwrought. All too often fancy words are used when a simpler one would have sufficed. Some sentences sound terribly profound, but what really do they mean?
There are two sisters (Ruth and Lucille) who behave in diametrically opposed manners to the suicide of their mother, the death of their grandmother who came to care for them after the death of their mother and to the death of their grandfather whose life was taken when the train he was on crashed from a bridge. These girls come then to live first with two great aunts and finally their aunt, Sylvie. This aunt is viewed by society as "flakey", unreliable and clearly inappropriate as a mother. The great aunts were certainly equally incapable. This is all presented at the beginning of the book, with few lines and little explanation. Lucille wants (view spoiler)[a secure ordinary life. She comes to live with her home economics teacher. Ruth settles in with her aunt, Sylvie. The central theme is about their relationship and what is demanded of them by "good society". It is about what they do to survive. (hide spoiler)]The book looks at Ruth's and Sylvia's manner of living compared to the life chosen by Lucille and the life society claims is best.
What is the book trying to say? That loss and abandonment leads to transience? Perhaps, but Lucille didn't follow that route and Sylvie had been flakey and lived as a transient for years even before her sister, the girls’ mother, had killed herself. Maybe it is as simple as this that people are different and there is no one correct manner of living. This is a rather self-evident message! Lucille's life is shown as narrow and restricted by others and society's opinions of her. Sylvie has heart, compassion and shows understanding for others, although the life she and Ruth opt to take is uncertain, difficult and borders on the improper. Sylvie is shown as appreciating nature and pursuing flitting dreams, but at least molding her life to her own wishes, accepting the hardships that follow. The problem is that we do not see if Ruth has chosen this route by free will, she was too young to really decide when she follows Sylvie. Maybe she has simply been molded by her aunt. What the author is trying to say leaves me confused. Images are splattered before us and they don't hold together, pointing to a clear message.
Ruth is telling us this story from the vantage point of an adult. The words spoken are not those of a child. A further incongruity is that Ruth never wanted to talk and here she is telling us this story. There is no clue as to what has changed her into this talkative person!
There are references to religious stories which I didn't understand - Cain and Abel and Noah and more.
The audiobook is narrated by Becket Royce. The tempo is uneven; at times too fast. You can hear what is being said, so three stars for the narration.
I don’t think this book has anything remarkable to say, and if it does it went over my head. The writing didn’t impress me. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is not merely a biography or description of a special time and place (the Cotswolds the years after the First World War), it is prose poetry. It This is not merely a biography or description of a special time and place (the Cotswolds the years after the First World War), it is prose poetry. It is the lyrical fashion in which it is written that is its outstanding element. The story unfolds not chronologically but rather by theme. There is a chapter on summer and winter. A chapter on festivals. A chapter on school. A chapter on sexual awakening. A chapter entitled "The Kitchen" which is the center of a home, and here we hear of his family, his mother and father and half-sisters, half-brothers and brothers. His father departed at the age of three. His mother waited for years and years and years for his father's return. She waited and waited, raising the kids from both his marriages, until his father's death made clear he was never to return. Laurie Lee's mother and his half-sisters shaped what was to be “his home". The essence of "home" is not just described but felt. His mother's essence is not just described but felt too. You leave the memoir knowing well not just Laurie Lee but his mother and his sisters too. You leave the memoir feeling the passage of the old Cotswolds into the new. Horses replaced by cars, songs and tales by candlelight in the evening to the wireless. Life in the village to life out there in the beyond. The girls married and gone. The absence of pigs. Laurie Lee draws contrasts vividly - then and now, summer and winter, quiet and bustle, presence and absence.
Laurie Lee narrates this, his own book. His voice quavers, but it is full of emotion. I went from disliking it in the beginning to thinking it was perfect by the book's end. In the middle I disassociated myself from what I was hearing by repeating the magnificent lines in my head. Then my need to do this suddenly stopped; I began to love the narration.