This is the first book in the trilogy of the ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ series.

I have to admit, this was quite a different book from what I had imagined after watching the TV dramatisation of the story. The book doesn’t really read like a story unfolding, it is more a historical record of the author’s life in a small village, for example the first chapter details the types of houses that people of that age and class lived in, then the types of work open to them, then their traditions, etc, rather than a group of characters and the telling of their lives and relationships. Therefore I found I didn’t pick the book up each day with the same degree of enthusiasm as I do with other books, but after persevering with it I found it had a charm of its own as the detailed descriptions do allow you to experience, to a degree, life at that time – and this focus may not have been there if I was busy concentrating on different characters and different storylines.

I found it remarkable to consider what a very hard life these people led – I tend to imagine village life as being idyllic and tranquil and a real joy, yet, for these people very near the poverty line, life was a constant struggle and compromise. They obviously had no time to enjoy the views, to go on lovely walks (unless it was to purchase something or fetch water from the Village Well), and their time spent in their gardens growing vegetables was a time of necessity rather than enjoyment. I was also left to consider the fact that children only went to school until eleven years of age, then the young boys went out to work in the fields and the young girls were sent out to unknown houses as servants. I found this so difficult to imagine in comparison to our traditions today. Yet, even though the author shows how hard life was, she still mixes this with positive things such as the closeness that the small community had, the enjoyment they got from simple pleasures like singing songs, and the curiosity of the children as they grew up.

The book reads almost like a diary really – not in that there is an entry listed for every day, but in that it is just a record of everyday thoughts and impressions; nothing remarkable or exciting, just ordinary simple life. I found I felt quite privileged in being able to peek into this time, and to have it described to me in such a real style – the same information as in history books, but presented here in a much more accessible way. Although the book wasn’t exciting or dramatic, I found I did enjoy it and plan to read the other two in the trilogy.

Lark Rise To Candleford A Trilogy (BBC Film and TV Tie-in edition)
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