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Modern Classics Lark Rise To Candleford a Trilogy Paperback – Dec 23 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classic (Dec 23 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141183314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141183312
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #167,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Born in Juniper Hill, Oxfordshire, Flora Thompson left school at 14 to work in the local post office. She married young, and wrote mass-market fiction to help support her increasing family. In her 60s she published the semi-autobiographical trilogy combined as LARK RISE TO CANDLEFORD (1945). RICHARD MABEY is the author of some thirty books, including Whistling in the Dark: In Pursuit of the Nightingale, Beechcombings: the narratives of Trees, the ground-breaking and best-selling "cultural flora" Flora Britannica, and Gilbert White, which won the Whitbread Biography Award. His recent memoir Nature Cure was short-listed for three major literary awards. He writes for the Independent, the Guardian, Resurgence and Granta, and contributes frequently to BBC radio. He lives in Norfolk, in the Waveney Valley.

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The hamlet stood on a gentle rise in the flat, wheat-growing north-east corner of Oxfordshire. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Redgirl on Jan. 29 2010
What a gem! this is a wonderful book, a close up of village life. The characters are wonderfully described and seem to breathe. No wonder it was made into a mini-series.
Read it. You will certainly enjoy it.
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By Sverre Svendsen TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 7 2010
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The setting is rural Oxfordshire, England, in the 1880s and 90s, written half a century later. Although it is an autobiographical account of the author's childhood and youth--she being Laura, rather than Flora--it is written in third-person. However, other than a few remarks comparing later events and conditions with the time period being chronicled, the narrative is not that of a mature adult reminiscing about the past. Instead, the story is told with the innocence of a young child, largely dispassionate and somewhat devoid of emotion. Although Laura is the central character, the narrator is more akin to an academic observer than a participant, but taking care to be true to mirror childlike thoughts, reactions and expectations. Facts are frankly stated without much judgmental moralizing or a cultivated perspective.

Thompson was a natural history devotee and the book reflects this proclivity in lengthy and detailed descriptions of flora and fauna. Above all this is a documentary work. Depending on the reader it can be judged as either a fascinatingly comprehensive account of minutiae from this time period in rural England, or a dreary and long-drawn-out collection of sociological and botanical trivia. There is scant dialogue or drama and no suspenseful anticipation of any kind. This is a masterful work for students of rural life in late Victorian England, but for others it may be a lot of reading (over 500 pages) to glean a few tidbits of childhood impressions and working class habits and mentality from days of yore. Yes, it does contain multiple gems and treasures to savour but be forewarned that this trilogy is not a work to be compared with the novels of Austen, Dickens or Hardy.
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I enjoyed the television series. I found this book to be a heavy read. It was difficult to follow - more of a story telling than a novel that keeps you turning pages. I rarely put a book down unfinished. This was one of those books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 148 reviews
137 of 140 people found the following review helpful
A Perceptive and Empathetic Account of English Rural Life by a Precursor and Kindred Spirit of Miss Read Sept. 18 2009
By olderandwiser - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book provides an easily readable, well-written account of English rural life in the late 1800s, before this culture was forever changed by industrialization. The author was a young girl whose simple adventures are described, and she does have an eye for the details of country life that provides a charming portrait of that life. Oxford University Press was the original publisher of this trilogy, and the quality of the book justified the publisher's faith. The author observes that although people didn't have as many material goods as today, and although they worked very hard, they seemed happier than their descendents. For example, she describes the system of assistance in the community among its different classes and members when there was no welfare state.
Perhaps because I discovered this book through an article in "Victoria" magazine in the 1990s--before the BBC made a television series out of it--I did not miss the absence of a storyline or plot. This is a beautiful book when it is taken on its own terms. If you enjoy Miss Read's novels of English village life, you will probably appreciate this book's loving depiction of country life at an earlier time. I think the inspiration of Miss Read and Flora Thompson is the same.
60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
One of my favorite classics March 20 2006
By Sammy Madison - Published on
I am so glad this book is still in print. It is one of my very favorites, and I read it at least once per year, like Huckleberry Finn. For those of us who love nature, and tales of growing up in the out-of-doors, this is a beautiful book of the natural world and agricultural lands. It contains wonderful sketches about farm life in the turn-of-the century English countryside, school life, and village characters. This book reminds me of Cider With Rosie (also called The Edge of Day) by Laurie Lee, another excellent book about growing up in England, set around the time of WWI. This is truly worthwhile reading. If you have read "Lark Rise to Candleford" and enjoyed it, another book by Flora Thompson, "Still Glides the Stream", deals with the same subject matter and is also very good.
63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Delightful view of British country life Jan. 12 2011
By J. Olsen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have completed the first book in the trilogy, and though I agree with another reviewer that it has the same kind of feel as the "Little House on the Prairie" and "Anne of Green Gables" series' (all of which I love), I don't think I would put this in the same age range as either. The "Little House" series was something my friends and I read starting in elementary school, and my daughters did the same. The "Anne" books were more junior high to high school, and we have enjoyed them as adults as well. Though Thompson's books have the same rural, homey feel to them, I think the lack of an ever-present storyline would make them less appealing to the average youth today who is used to instant gratification and constant entertainment (I know I am generalizing). I'm sure there are some youth that would love them, but they are much more an insightful, descriptive look at country life with stories scattered here and there and I believe they will appeal more to adults. I find them fascinating and I think the people who used these books as a basis for the PBS series have done a brilliant job of creating a consistent storyline from the threads of narrative Thompson has woven together. If you have watched the series and loved it, don't approach the books as "the script" for what you have seen. View it more as background material and enjoy a deeper look into what made the people who they are. If you have read the books and are just considering seeing the series, don't expect to see what you have read. They are both wonderful examples of their own art form. Let each stand alone and appreciate them for what they are.

ETA: I have now completed the book and have seen all four seasons of the PBS series. I love them both, but would still caution people not to expect the movies to be an exact visual portrayal of the books. I admit that I am one who has been upset at times when I have seen a movie "based on" a classic book that has taken great liberties in their portrayal and completely changed characters who are critical to the storyline. However, I had not read these books before seeing the first three seasons of the PBS series, so the show was my introduction to the stories and characters. I still thoroughly enjoyed the books and thought it was fun to see what had inspired many of the stories in the TV series.
60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
simple account of a lost lifestyle Dec 1 1999
By Manola Sommerfeld - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I borrowed this book from the library. I love the illustrations, which very much enhance the story. The author reminisces about the way things were in the English countryside in the 1880's. Her accounts and descriptions might be simple, of everyday tasks that we don't think much about, but i really enjoyed learning about these details.
The book i read, the "Illustrated" version, is an abrigment of the thre volumes. The editors say at the end that the abridgment was done mostly to avoid repetition, which exists in the three books so that they can be read independently of each other.
82 of 89 people found the following review helpful
Late-19th c. rural England April 24 2009
By LH422 - Published on
Format: Paperback
Written in the 1940s, this semi-fictional account of hte 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.