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Wider Reading - Cider with Rosie and Cranford.

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Wider Reading - Cider with Rosie and Cranford Cider with Rosie is an autobiography, it is not fiction like a novel but an account of a persons own life. Unlike a novel, it does not have the thread of a story with interacting characters connecting all it's parts. It has a different pattern with which we are all familiar. It is about childhood and growing up. We all have our own special early childhood memories and Laurie Lee seems to highlight the things we all have in common. The book starts with early childhood, early memories of people, an animal and places which then seemed strange and sometimes frightening. It goes on to describe going to school and branches out to tell us about members of his family, neighbours, tales about the neighbourhood and how the changing seasons of the year changed peoples habits and activities. Laurie Lee writes about the illnesses which brought him close to death. He writes about the entertainment to be had in those days, his first girlfriends and the book ends in his teens with the first of his family about to leave home to get married. The book is set in the village of Slad which still exists, not far from Stroud in Gloucestershire, however Laurie Lee is writing about the village as it was fifty or sixty years ago. We are reading about a past that has changed almost out of recognition. Laurie Lee uses language in an attempt to make his memories come alive, vividly and colourfully. He may use a single word: "Peas come in long shells of green pearls" Or a comparison: "The sun hit me smartly on the face like a bully" Or a very descriptive and poetic sentence: "All day she trotted to and fro, flushed and garrulous, pouring flowers into every pot and jug she could find on the kitchen floor." ...read more.


There was also the tale of the Browns' sad ending in the workhouse and the suicide of the beautiful Miss Flynn. Walking was probably the main form of transport in Cider with Rosie along with cycling. The whole village went on many outings which mainly consisted of walking and picnics: "Then sometimes there'd be a whole days outing, perhaps to Sheepscombe to visit relations - a four-mile walk, which to our short legs seemed further, so that we needed all day to do it." Laurie Lee also took trips with his local choir. These outings were a great reward and had to be worked hard for. They may have ventured to places like Weston-Super-Mare or Bristol to see the docks. "The first Choir Outing we ever had was a jaunt in a farm wagon to Gloucester." A farm wagon was probably the most common form of transport for this kind of outing up until: "The coming of the horse-brake and charabanc" Man and horse power were the only power ever known to Laurie Lee in the village of Slad, with the horse being the most powerful. You could only travel at speeds of up to eight miles an hour, which really limited where you could go, as it says in the chapter 'Last Days': "That eight miles an hour was life and death, the size of our world, our prison." As Laurie Lee grew older he noticed changes occurring in the village transport which he had always known and been familiar with. There was the introduction of 'The brass-lamped motor-car', 'the clamorous charabanc', and 'scarlet motor-bikes.' Everything began to change as new technology began to take over. Cranford is almost the complete opposite to Cider with Rosie. In Cider with Rosie walking was common and thought of as the norm but in Cranford walking was almost unheard of especially among the upper class members of society. ...read more.


She is beautiful and graceful, Laurie is awestruck. Phyllis is also looking beautiful, she is wearing: "A long chequered dress of black and white velvet, and a hat full of feathers and moths." Ladies in Cranford weren't too fussy about what they wore. They didn't follow fashion but what they did wear made them look respectful and admirable, as it was the expected rules of dress. They observe: "What does it signify how we dress at Cranford, where everybody knows us?" When they visited other towns or villages their explanation for dress was: "What does it signify how we dress here, where nobody knows us?" So the women in Cranford stuck to clothing that was in general 'good and plain'. There are many interesting characters in Cider with Rosie but perhaps the most amusing are the grannies. Their constant bickering and unusual habits make you feel warmth towards them. They are two very different characters. Granny Wallon was the more mysterious of the two, scurrying around never saying much about her past. She was very interested in the outside world collecting plants and taking walks in the garden: "One saw her hobbling home in the evening, bearing her cargoes of crusted flowers, till she had buckets of cowslips, dandelions, elder-blossom crammed into every corner of the house." Then there was simple Granny Trill who seemed to the children very strange. Her pattern of life was very different to others, Laurie says: "She breakfasted, for instance at four in the morning, had dinner at ten, took tea at two-thirty, and was back in her bed at five." Granny Trill seemed almost fierce. She was very religious and believed very much in fate, she also believed she knew what was going to happen in the future. These two Grannies were ancient enemies but their lives revolved entirely around one another: "Like cold twin stars, linked but divided, they survived by a mutual balance." The Grannies died within two weeks of one another. Granny Trill was the first to go and once she was gone there was no further reason for Granny Wallon to live. ...read more.

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