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As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning

(The Autobiographical Trilogy #2)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  4,111 ratings  ·  301 reviews
It was 1934 and a young man walked to London from the security of the Cotswolds to make his fortune.

He was to live by playing the violin and by labouring on a London building site. Then, knowing one Spanish phrase, he decided to see Spain. For a year he tramped through a country in which the signs of impending civil war were clearly visible. Thirty years later Laurie Lee c
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 31st 1973 by Penguin (first published 1969)
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4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,111 ratings  ·  301 reviews

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russell barnes
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is one of two books I inherited from my mum's parents, the other being Anna Karenina. I remember going up to my grandpa's house after he died and reading this, by an open fire, drinking Stones Ginger Wine the night of his funeral. I must have been about 16-17, and me and my brother were the only people in the house as our parents stayed with my aunt.

Anyway, maybe it was the age thing, being hyper-sensitive because of the funeral, it being a windy, stormy night, or the ginger wine, but I re
Paul Christensen
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Laurie Lee fought on the commie-scum side in the Spanish Civil War, but doesn’t seem to have been much of a ideological commie. One chapter describes his encounter with the right-wing poet Roy Campbell, with whom he seems to have gotten along rather well.

The final chapter, ‘War’, is more vivid than Orwell’s ‘Homage to Catalonia’, and the whole book is loaded with great descriptive passages of 1930s Spain, like this:

‘Occasionally a day turned unhealthy, when idleness and ennui led to an outburst
In 1934 Laurie Lee left his Cotswold home to walk south to see the ocean, then headed up to London. The nineteen-year-old played the violin on street corners for tips, and also depended on the kindness of strangers. A professional tramp who did a yearly circuit around England taught him some of the tricks of survival on the road. Since this was during the years of economic depression, there were also many men on the road looking for work. He worked as a laborer on a construction site and lived i ...more
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’d already read Laurie Lee's autobiographical trilogy….

- Cider With Rosie (1959) (published in the U.S. as The Edge of Day (1960))
- As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969)
- A Moment of War (1991)

… around 2006, and loved each book. Just magnificent.

In 2016, I reread As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969), and I am delighted to report it is every bit as good as I had remembered.

Laurie Lee's childhood, so beautifully and evocatively related in Cider With Rosie is over and Laurie Lee
Peter Marsh
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is possibly my favourite book, I re-read it every 3-4 years and will continue to do so.

I think that is partly due to the fact that I first read it at 21 and I'm sure that like like most people my desire to experience new things without a safety net is strongest around that age.
This book is about that; a young man sets out on a journey at a time when travel for its own sake was extremely rare for the vast majority of people, when leaving the county or even the village was something that som
Steven Godin
Wonderful read, Lee's language is both lyrical and poetic, providing a rich evocation of time and place. This part a coming-of-age narrative as well, the still naive Lee of the epilogue is nonetheless grown and filled-out by his experiences. Travelling to Spain, Lee portrays a hard country a world away from the Spain of today. poverty is rife, the stage is prepped and set for the for the full drama of the political crises that were unfolding. Yet Lee is beguiled by the country, it's people and c ...more
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This has got to be one of the most evocative memoirs ever written; it certainly tops all the other road-trip/travelers tales I’ve read. As befits an award winning poet, Lee’s prose has a concise, 3-D image-making eloquence that drops the reader into the center of a scene, in the breathing presence of a character, or into the tactile truth of a landscape.

In the mid-1930s, the nineteen year-old Lee sets out on foot from his Gloucestershire home, with a tin of biscuits and a violin, on his way to L
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written book about Laurie Lee's experiences as a nineteen-year-old walking through Spain just before, and as, the Civil War started. As much poetry as prose. Part of the effect is that he spends all but the last few pages describing rural (and even urban) Spain in 1934 as still living in medieval times, a state of serfdom, ignorance, poverty, disease, and filth that he observed but did not question. Suddenly the rise of the republican movement is an awakening for him as well as a con ...more
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Laurie Lee was a teenager when he set out on that midsummer morning in 1934. But he waited 35 years before finally publishing an account of the long walk which took him through Spain in the run-up to the Civil War. This long gap of time gives the book its mood of intense nostalgia, with its sensuous descriptions of a vanished world. I loved reading this memoir and at times slowed down to make the enjoyment last longer.

Actually, Lee went on two separate walks. First of all he left the Cotswolds
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2017
The year is 1934 and the 19 year old Laurie Lee is about to leave his Gloucestershire home, to walk to London. His mother feeds him his last breakfast, standing just behind him with a hand on his shoulder. Few words are spoken, but it is an emotionally charged goodbye. As he walks up the hill out of the village he glances back and waves, before walking away from the only place he has ever known. First though, he wants to see the sea, so heads towards Southampton through the English countryside j ...more
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
The best of the 3 autobiographical books poet Laurie Lee wrote, this one concerns his walking tour of Spain just before the Spanish Civil War. He was penniless, young, and open to experience, and as a result, he had a wonderful time wandering from town to town playing his violin for small change, food and lodging. It worked, in that long-gone time, and the descriptions of Spain before the wars are heartbreaking because Lee is so good at bringing to life all that we've lost without sentimentalizi ...more
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: group, non-fiction
Laurie Lee's autobiography of his childhood in rural Gloucestershire, "Cider with Rosie", is a classic. This book continues with his leaving home aged nineteen, walking to London via Southampton (where he learns busking techniques) and some of the South Coast, having his first publication of a poem, working as a building site labourer and then spending a year living and walking in Spain.
He came from an impoverished background and his sympathies are always with other disadvantaged people he meets
Sandra Danby
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This small book is such a delight to read, it is at the same time a glimpse into ancient Spain [albeit 1934] and a door opening onto Spanish culture today. The cover illustration on my copy, by Pauline Ellison, is flooded with fresh spring green, just like the valley I look out on today on this chilly Spring day. It is the account of the author’s walk from Vigo on the Atlantic coast, south to Castillo in AndalucÍa. Written by a young man who knows just one Spanish phrase, he earns pesetas from p ...more
J. Watson (aka umberto)
Finally, today I finished reading this second sequel to his Cider With Rosie (Vintage 2003). Indeed, I had bought its Penguin edition and kept them at bay for years, hoping to read his famous memoir first but I couldn't make it till last year in December 2017. Then last month I came across this new second-hand copy at the DASA Book Café in Bangkok and decided to buy it because, in the meantime, I needed some interesting books to read. As an overview, we can see from the contents that there are a ...more
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Beautiful prose...but I just couldn't engage. For me it just seemed very repetitive - I got off the boat and walked to this village, met some interesting people, drank a lot, played my violin to earn some cash and then walked to another village, met some interesting people, drank a lot, played my violin to earn some cash and then walked to another village, met some interesting people, drank a lot, played my violin to earn some cash and then walked to another village, met some interesting people, ...more
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie
From Radio 4 - Book of The Week:
Laurie Lee's classic travel book, abridged by Katrin Williams. Read by Tobias Menzies.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
There’s much beautiful writing in this memoir. En route to London, living on pressed dates and biscuits, Lee describes his youthful progress:
I forgot everything but the way ahead. I walked steadily, effortlessly, hour after hour, in a kind of swinging, weightless dream. I was at that age which feels neither strain nor friction, when the body burns magic fuels, so that it seems to glide in warm air, about a foot off the ground, smoothly obeying its intuitions. Even exhaustion, when it came, had a
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
A beautifully written elegy for a world we have lost.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
An initially aesthetic encounter with Spain culminates in a political awakening.
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved going on Laurie Lee's adventure with him. He set out as a village boy in 1934 to "seek his fortune" in the time honored way, heading first to London. Along the way he played his violin for tips. I especially enjoyed reading his tip-getting and music-choice advice, since I've been a busker myself. I've played some of his selections myself.

His tales of fellow wanderers--and there were many during the Depression--were interesting and varied. Some of the people he walked with or worked with,
Karl H.
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
“As I Walked out One Midsummer Morning” is the portrait of a young man adrift in a country poised to tear itself apart in civil war. This is the journey of a man from childhood through adolescence and finally to the brink of soldier hood. And yet for that, this book feels a bit like looking at beautiful vacation slides of your buddy who “found himself” backpacking in Europe. Yes, the pictures are pretty, and occasionally we see a glimpse of a companion here and there, but there’s not much narrat ...more
Richard Newton
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the second part of Lee's autobiography, which starts famously with Cider with Rosie. But this is a very different book from Cider With Rosie.

How does it differ? In Cider with Rosie Lee writes as an insider, part of the Cotswold village. This is more written about experiences observing another country and culture whilst travelling through it. Cider with Rosie covers 20 years, but in a way is timeless as it is as much about describing the life and rhythms of the village as it is about Lee
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book filled with wonderful writing. It's actually the second in a trilogy covering Lee's life before and during the Spanish Civil War. I haven't read the 1st or 3rd books but didn't feel like I needed them in order to enjoy this one.

In the mid 1930s, when he was only 19, Laurie Lee left his childhood home in Gloucestershire (which he documented in the 1st book of the trilogy) to walk the world and experience life. A brief sojourn in London ends with a boat trip across the Chanel to S
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and poetic memoir, that is unputdownable from the word go.

This is the sequal to Cider with Rosie, and see a young Lauri Lee setting out on foot on an adventure. He has never seen the sea, so he starts off towards that, and ends up in Spain, where he astonished by the diffence in climate from England;

"The violence of the heat seemed to bruise the whole earth and turn its crust into one huge scar. One's blood dried up and all juices vanished; the sun struck upwards, sideways, and down,
Judith Lewis
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Think I am one of the few people of my age and educational background to have never read, or owned, Cider with Rosie. I read this when I realised how little I knew about the Spanish Civil War after reading Victoria Hislop's "The Return". It is a beautiful, poetic and magical book, that conjures up a past world, but that made me so want to go and see what echoes of it might remain in the various towns that he visits. It is the account of the author's travels on foot through 1930s Spain, supportin ...more
Rob Innis
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Laurie Lee was born in 1915 in Stroud. He left home at nineteen to experience life with only his optimism and a few meagre possessions. He walked to London via the coast, he ‘wanted to see the sea.’ After a year in London he booked a one-way ticket to Vigo, Spain. From there he walked down through inland Spain and arrived at Cadiz, which failed to impress him ‘a heap of squat cubist hovels.’ He survived by busking his violin to the confused Spanish, many thought he was French. After all, why wou ...more
David Canford
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I find much of the writing in this book outstanding, such perfect prose and intense imagery. I read it many years ago and have recently re-read it. Having forgotten how good it was, it was a pleasure to rediscover it. Set in the 1930s, the author leaves his family in the bucolic English Cotswolds and heads for Spain, crossing it on foot and with only his violin, busking as he goes.
The Spain he describes is one of unrelenting heat, passion and poverty. A society where most had very little, often
Daniel Gonçalves
Jun 09, 2016 rated it liked it
It is not often I get to read such lucid and whimsical autobiographical fiction.

Narrating one’s personal story might be a struggle, but Laurie Lee makes it easy. The prose is fluid, convincing, and entertaining. Although flowery at times, it is enough to keep the reader’s attention in the story.

This book is not just a depiction of a hero on an enlightening adventure. It is a historical report on Spain’s social and political circumstances during the 1930’s.
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Laurence Edward Alan "Laurie" Lee, MBE, was an English poet, novelist, and screenwriter. His most famous work was an autobiographical trilogy which consisted of Cider with Rosie (1959), As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969) and A Moment of War (1991). While the first volume famously recounts his childhood in the idyllic Slad Valley, the second deals with his leaving home for London and his ...more

Other books in the series

The Autobiographical Trilogy (3 books)
  • Cider With Rosie
  • A Moment Of War
“For the first time I was learning how much easier it was to leave than to stay behind and love.” 22 likes
“I felt once again the unease of arriving at night in an unknown city--that faint sour panic which seems to cling to a place until one has found oneself a bed.” 10 likes
More quotes…