Written in the 1940s, this semi-fictional account of the Oxfordshire villages Lark Rise and Candleford looks back at the 1880s, a time of transition in the English countryside. Work, social relationships, home life, schooling- all of these things changed in the last years of the 19th c. Thompson examines these changes through the story of Laura, a girl who comes of age in the 1880s and 90s. But truly, in this work Laura's story takes a back seat to description. Thompson is clearly using this book to capture a lost world, and the book includes whole chapters describing the countryside and the traditions of its people. The writing is almost anthropological. While the description is interesting, and it is a very easy read, I found myself longing for more plot, more discussion of what happened to Laura. I also found that the book seemed to romanticize what must have been, by all accounts, grinding poverty. That said, the descriptions Thompson offers are engaging and vibrant, and the book is a quick, and dare I say, relaxing, read.
Flora Thompson, Lark Rise to Candleford (Crown, 1984) ISBN: 0140074546