Red Sky at Sunrise: Cider With Rosie/As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning/a Moment of War

Red Sky at Sunrise: Cider With Rosie/As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning/a Moment of War - Laurie Lee I first read Cider with Rosie at school and enjoyed it, identifying with the author's portrayal of childhood, I suppose. When I re-read it as an adult, and a father, I was overwhelmed by the yearning nostalgia of Lee's prose. But there is no mawkish sentimentality here, no idyll. In places there is a lurking , murderous undercurrent, a burgeoning and threatening sexuality that had gone over my head when I read the book at school. What comes across so strongly is Lee's sense of affection for and of belonging to a place and time that has forever vanished.Cider with Rosie is not just one of the best books ever written about childhood, it is (for me) one of the best books ever written.As I Walked Out Midsummer Morning sees Lee's leave-taking of his village home in the Cotswold countryside and his entry into the bigger world. It's a transition from a rural lifestyle that had not significantly changed for hundreds of years to the modern twentieth-century urban environment. Having seen the big city, Lee wants to see more of the world, and we are therefore gifted with his wondrously brilliant sketch of Spain. The heat and light of the Spanish plains seems to pour off the page and you feel transported.A Moment of War continues from the point the previous volume ended, but the tone is very different. In an unusually cold Spanish winter, Lee joins the International Brigade in the Republican struggle against General Franco's fascists. Lee shows the horrible futility, wastefulness and arbitrariness of war unflinchingly. This easily stands beside [b:Goodbye to All That|3161267|Goodbye to All That|Robert Graves||1701023] by [a:Robert Graves|3012988|Robert Graves|] as a great literary war memoir. A downbeat ending to the trilogy, but nonetheless affecting.