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As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning Hardcover – September, 1985

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc (September 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393022331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393022339
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 7.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Originally published in 1969, Lee's charming account of his travels in Spain in 1935 became almost as popular as his delightful Cider with Rosie. This fussily illustrated edition is an insult to an enjoyable prose work by a distinguished poet. Rather than eliciting the Spain that Lee visited, these old-fashioned illustrations from a variety of sources detract from a text that is rendered unreadable by a 34-pica measure, surmounted by running headlines (finically set in caps and italic initial caps), topped by a double line that serves as "walking" surface for a little man with stick (presumably representing the author) who promenades remorselessly across the page, pica by pica, as the reader progresses with the story. Each color illustration is surrounded by a white mat-like area enclosed, in turn, by a triple-rule frame set against a tan backgrounda tacky effect. The paperback reprint of the original edition is available for those who prefer unencumbered reading. October 28
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Twenty years before Jack Kerouac set off On the Road, Lee (A Moment of War, Audio Reviews, LJ 3/15/94) left the safety of his rural English home and embarked on a wondrous adventure. Supporting himself by playing the violin, the 20-year-old Lee made his way to London and then to Spain, where he spent a year wandering across the countryside on foot. Eventually Lee encountered the undercurrents of civil war and found himself hopelessly entangled. Using the highly polished wordsmithing tools he has developed as a poet, Lee masterfully evokes the ambience 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 work is a fine nonfiction complement to Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. Highly recommended.
Ray Vignovich, West Des Moines P.L., Ia.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

We have enjoyed reading this book out loud.
Along with Laurie Lee's other prose, among the most lyrical and magical travel memoirs, with characters drawn beautifully and moods captured poetically.
Jack Ruskin
It is well worth the read; a fine well written adventure.
William VanZevern

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Gussie Fink-Nottle on January 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning" [1], author Laurie Lee recounted his first sojourn away from home. At age 19, our narrator-biographer, walked out of his village at Stroud, Gloucestershire, and headed toward London. As Lee himself recalled, he was 'still soft at the edges' when he said farewell to his mother (a poignant scene in the opening chapter). All he had with him that Sunday morning in June 1934 was 'a small rolled-up tent, a violin in a blanket, a change of clothes, a tin of treacle biscuits, and some cheese.'
After nearly a year of living and working in London as a cement laborer, Lee decided it was time to move on. He bought a one-way ticket and sailed to Spain. He settled for Spain because he had had an introduction to Spanish. All he could speak then, Lee admitted, was only one Spanish phrase: 'Will you please give me a glass of water?'

In July 1935, Laurie Lee landed in northwestern Spain. For many months he roamed the exotic and history-filled landscape, living off his music and the kindness of the people he came to love. From Vigo, he wandered southward through the New Castile region (Segovia, Madrid, Toledo). By December, he came to the coastal region of Andalusia (Cordova, Seville, Granada). There, Lee holed up at a Castillo hotel until the outbreak of the civil war in July 1936.
This author's second autobiographical sketch could have been subtitled "From Spain With Love." His inimitable poetic description of the Spanish landscape and its inhabitants is sensual as it is lyrical.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Reid on March 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
His admirers have commented, variously, that Laurie Lee 'writes like an angel', a 'poet, whose prose is quick and bright as a snake'. For another writer such praise might seem lavish but not for Laurie Lee. He writes beautifully, producing books that electrify and enchant, exhilarate and mesmerise. 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' is the second volume of a marvellous trilogy. Part autobiography, part evocation of all the bewilderment and uncertainty of the 1930's, it is characterized by the lyricism of its poet author. Leaving his home in the Cotswolds, the young Lee walks to London in 'high, sulky Summer' with high hopes of making his fortune. He settles, happily enough, in a London boarding house with an engagingly eccentric Irish Cockney family, and supports himself by labouring on a building site and by playing the violin. In a life of opposites, we are treated to a first-hand account of the ugliness and tension of the disputes between employees and unions. In the dawn of the first, disquieting signs of dissatisfaction - a feeling in the 30's that led inexorably to the policy of Appeasement, and thus to war - we see through the eyes of a naive adolescent. It is this naivete, coupled with the glorious spontaneity that floods this book, which leads him to Spain. Knowing approximately one Spanish phrase, Lee decides to see Spain and so begins the love affair wtih a country that was to obsess him for the rest of his life. Never has Spain been so vividly painted. From the scorching heat and vivid, voluptous women of Vigo, to the false glamour and dilapidation of Madrid, Laurie Lee writes with a passion to match his captivation. An absolutely unforgettable book with a host of sharply drawn characters.Read more ›
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on January 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
It's a shame that this fine book is not in print. Those going after used editions--and you should--are encouraged to look for the 1985 reprint stunningly illustrated with classic paintings of Spanish life. But back to why you want to read this: in 1934, a young, naive Englishman who had never been out of his rural neighborhood packed up his violin and went walking, first to London, a hundred miles east and then via boat to Spain where he walked from Vigo in the north down to the southern coast. I'm having trouble shelving the book: is it a straight memoir? Certainly it is very much about the writer's encounter with the world at a historically significant time and about his own growth process. Or is it a travelogue? It is a very accurate account of the unique Spanish culture and countryside. Although written more than 30 years after the actual experience, Lee's account conveys a fresh sense of wonder and discovery and resists overlaying too much foreshadowing and hindsight. His style is lyrical, vivid as the blue Spanish sky and honest. He is refreshingly free of nationalism and prejudice.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Helen Grant on November 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Laurie Lee's writing is beautiful, simple and elegant: down-to-earth but poetic. I first read this book when I was 14. Twelve years later, it's still in my all-time top three. It is incredibly evocative of Spain before the Civil War - it describes a place and a moment in history seen through the excited eyes of a youth. It is nostalgic but not unrealistic. Read it. You won't regret it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chapman on December 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
I had heard of Laurie Lee before, but I don't believe that I had ever read anything of his. I would imagine that reading some of his work is essential to say one has lived in Gloucestershire, right? I am glad that I read this book, as the descriptions were some of the most vivid that I have seen - one might say poetic, actually!

I did read a few bios of Lee, as I was curious to know how this experience fit into his life. I found that he wrote "Walked out" about 30 years after the events occurred, though they do say that he kept notes of his experiences. I wondered if Lee had written this book close after the events depicted because he describes his mother in the first pages as if she is an old crone. Now, I know that young people tend to view anyone over thirty as hopelessly old, but his mum was only 55 when he left, and I question that description. It does make me wonder if perhaps this book was written more with the eyes and heart of a fifty year old than of a under 30 chap.

The descriptions of places and people were second to none. I could envision what Lee saw and heard. He wasn't as successful at conveying his emotions, though. Perhaps he doesn't remember what he felt, and why he did what he did, and that's fair enough. I just find it hard to believe that he would go off to Spain for no particular reason, and then wander about with no particular goal. In fact, he gives himself sunstroke twice by pushing on toward no particular goal. I know that the Y chromosome is a dangerous thing, but this seems excessively stupid. If I had a bit more insight into his character perhaps it would make some sense. Lee seems to intentionally keep his emotions away from the reader.
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