“I was nineteen years old, still soft at the edges, but with a confident belief in good fortune. I carried a small rolled-up tent, a violin in a blanket, a change of clothes, a tin of treacle biscuits, and some cheese. I was excited, vain-glorious, knowing I had far to go; but not, as yet, how far.”
So begins the adventure of the young Laurie Lee, who walks from his tiny village in a remote corner of Gloucestershire, to London and into the twentieth century. Knowing one Spanish phrase, he decides to take the ferry to Spain.
Unbeknownst to Lee, Spain in 1934 was on the verge of war, and, inexorably, he becomes entangled in the passionate, violent and bloody confusion that was the Spanish Civil War.
Twenty years before Jack Kerouac set off On the Road, Lee left the safety of his rural English home and embarked on a wondrous adventure…Lee masterfully evokes the ambiance and tension of Europe on the eve of World War II. Lee’s narration is like curling up on one’s grandfather’s lap and listening to stories of being attacked by wolves, hounded by the police, romanced by idealism, and seduced by beauty. This is a fine nonfiction complement to Ernest Hemingway’s From Whom the Bell Tolls [sic]. Highly recommended.
The new edition is a welcome addition to the memoir genre, especially for those who’ve never discovered Lee before. His gentle descriptions of seeing the world in a new way, and transforming his life as a result, will ring true for anyone who’s stood in a foreign landscape, and felt a great gust of cool air through the mind because of it.
He writes like an angel, and conveys the pride and vitality of the humblest Spanish life with unfailing sharpness, zest and humor.
—The Sunday Times (UK)
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning offers a new edition of Laurie Lee’s classic account of involvement in the Spanish Civil War, offering an unexpected blend of humor, coming of age, and social observation. It’s a sequel to his Cider with Rosie but stands well alone as a fine memoir observing Europe on the brink of World War II, and is a top recommendation for both its social observation and its lyrical, literary prose.
—Midwest Book Review