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review 2016-01-07 07:41
Local stories for local people
Gloucestershire Folk Tales - Anthony Nanson

I'm making a point of reading landscape books at the moment - there are many ways in which writing connects with place, and this is one of them. Author Anthony Nanson is both a novelist and a story teller, so is able to breathe life into the folk tales of Gloucestershire.


Many of the stories in this book are connected with landscapes I know intimately. Some of the tales were familiar, others not, including one about a hill that has left me with a significant mystery to ponder. For me, what made the book so valuable was the intertwining of known history, physical place, and story. At times there are reasons to think that the stories have grown out of those other features, perhaps to explain something. I particularly liked the way in which the Devil stories for the county were woven into one tale. I hadn’t realised just how much of the landscape was of the Devil’s making! Parallels with tales from elsewhere were also fascinating. It’s a lively read, and a must if you’re in the county.

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review 2015-12-10 10:53
local ghosts for local people!
Gloucestershire Ghost Tales - Anthony Nanson,Kirsty Hartsiotis

I didn't know any of these stories of spooky goings on in Gloucestershire. An an engaging set of tales well told, I shall have to get out there and find some of the locations, Woeful Dane's Bottom is at the top of my list.

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text 2013-06-25 16:29
Cider with Rosie.


'Cider with Rosie' was, for me, one of the most evocative books I have ever read. The book is about Laurie Lee's youth in a rural Gloucestershire village after the First World War. Lee recounts a bygone age, where the rural classes were still at the mercy of the seasons and of local superstitions. It is a book of homemade wines, languid summers and rural poverty. You are entirely drawn into the novel from the start by the incredibly insular surroundings of the cramped cottage and the Cotswold valley in which the village sits. 

'Summer, June Summer,with the green back on earth and the whole world unlocked and seething- like winter, it came suddenly and one knew it in bed, almost before waking up; with cuckoos and pigeons hollowing the woods since daylight and the chirping of tits in the pear-blossom.' p.159



The novel is an unrestrained feast for the senses but it is not this alone which charmed me. I live in Worcestershire, a county in Britain which neighbours Gloucestershire and so, inevitably, there was much in the 'Cider with Rosie' which resonated with me. Being awoken my birdsong from May til August, apple-green spring and unrelenting July sunshine where, it seemed, absolutely nothing seemed to happen but summer. It was not only an ode to the countryside though; there was so much of life, death, youth and age to be found too. A vivid recollection of a way of life largely unknown to us now. 

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