In the hands of essayist and poet Laurie Lee (1914 – 1997), England unfolds as rich and warm and tempting as it ever was.
The essays of Village Christmas are full of seasonal changes, cultural textures, avuncular characters, dotted with small towns, abundant rivers and snug valleys where one can spend a lifetime without longing. It is the England many of us seek and are delighted to find still exists.
Lee indulges themes like memory, home, longing, childhood and deep, deep loss. When he turned twenty, Lee left the Cotswolds and ventured abroad. While his writing matured, Lee nevertheless felt an increasing pull of things lost, like home, only to find he could never return.
Lee’s writing is not well-known outside England but should be. Like Wodehouse, Wilde, and Dickens, he is an English writer who adores the English language: “Pushing the cold before me like a sheet of tin, I set off up the Christmas road.” I caught this collection on a ‘staff recommends’ table in my favorite bookshop. What a gift.