Why Cider With Rosie is my favourite book

Libraries in West Sussex have started a phased reintroduction of services with a Select and Collect option from the front doors of all 36 library buildings.

Jackie Manners - My Favourite Book
Jackie Manners - My Favourite Book

To take advantage of this service, visit their website: https://arena.westsussex.gov.uk/web/arena/currentoffer/library-reservations

The service comes as they move towards eventual full reopening.

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In the meantime, we continue to keep in touch with librarians across the county with our weekly My Favourite Book series.

This week, Jackie Manners, principal librarian wellbeing – Worthing Library, explains why her choice is Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee.

“My favourite book? I thought it would be a hard decision as there have been so many at different times of my life over the years but then I realised there could only be one – Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee.

“In a way I have surprised myself by my choice as I am an avid fiction reader, especially crime and thrillers, but Cider with Rosie has spoken to me and stayed with me in ways that other books haven’t.

“I first read this as a teenager as I thought it was one of those books I should read but didn’t understand what all the fuss was about at all! It didn’t seem to have any relevance to the world I was living in and there were enough other books that I had to read for school.

“However, 40-plus years later I love and appreciate it as a beautifully written book describing a place, a time and a people on the verge of dramatic change.

In Cider with Rosie,Laurie Lee describes his childhood in a remote and rural part of the Cotswolds in the years following the First World War before cars and electricity had reached the area.

“It has a wonderful cast of characters, particularly Lee’s mother and older sisters, his two grandmothers who live with the family and are continually warring with each other, his five uncles all with very distinct personalities and the other people in the village who are, in the main, warm, funny and supportive, despite many living in what we would now think of as very difficult circumstances.

“When I first read it I didn’t appreciate how well Lee’s writing brought to life his family, environment, the people he knew and the life they led.

“I didn’t realise that when I read it again years later I would be completely transported into another world and time.

“However, I did keep the copy of the book, which I must have either bought in a second-hand bookshop or was passed down the family to me, as the stamp inside proudly states ‘Property of the West Sussex Education Committee, Lancastrian Secondary Girls School, Chichester 1968’ and it even still has the date label in it!

“I haven’t yet gone on to read Lee’s following two autobiographies, As I Walked out one Midsummer Morning and A Moment of War.

“I’m torn as I want to find out more about the rest of his life and appreciate his descriptive writing again but if I don’t enjoy them it might spoil the memory of Cider with Rosie for me.

“However, that would be a very good reason to read it again!

“So why would I recommend Cider with Rosie now?

“ A few years ago it was chosen by my book club and I was really hoping that it would mean more to me this time. I wasn’t disappointed! It is descriptive, poetic, funny, heart-warming and completely immerses you in a world that was changing and is now long gone.

“For me, it is one of those books where you don’t want to watch the film or the TV series in case that spoils the images of the characters and place that Laurie Lee has so brilliantly created in my mind and I will hang on to my 50 year old copy to read again one day.

“Everyone in my book club loved it too by the way!”


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