Slightly Foxed edition published 2022
Lark Rise is Flora Thompson’s childhood memories of a north Oxfordshire village, the people who lived and worked in it, and a way of life that has totally disappeared. The story is built around Laura and her brother Edmund, through whose eyes are seen ‘old Sally’, whose grandfather built the house she lived in before the enclosure of the heathland, children’s games, the interaction of village and gentry, and the way in which the seasons governed life.
Laura Timms spends her childhood in a country hamlet called Lark Rise. An intelligent and enquiring child, she is always attentive to the way of life around her – the lives of a farming community and nature as it transforms through the seasons, their working lives together and their celebrations. Whilst much is to be admired and cherished about her community, when she looks back on it as an adult she doesn’t shy away from describing hardship too. Laura attends the village school and leaves at the age of fourteen to work for the postmistress of the village of Candleford. There her eyes are opened to wider horizons.
My reading experience:
This is an incredibly informative, descriptive and calming fictionalised memoir, beautiful to read, and if you choose the Slightly Foxed edition, beautiful to hold.
It isn’t even that the narrator is a young girl called Laura, eldest daughter of the stone mason, who is evidently the author, Flora, It is the detail in observations of every day life, homes, traditions and expectations. As a reader in the twenty-first century, I wonder at the life she describes, of simple home grown and butchered food, of not quite enough money for everyone to have new boots, of morals and values and traditional events, of the workhouse (The Poor Law 1834) and when the the Old-Age Pensions Act 1908 changed the lives of those reaching the age when they couldn’t work.
I enjoyed the way the author/narrator added her own reflections from the future, looking back at the life and the inevitable changes to lifestyles.
I am looking forward to reading Over to Candleford, the second part of this memoir.