Flora Thompson, Lark Rise to Candleford
Flora Thompson wrote the much-loved trilogy that came to be known as Lark Rise to Candleford in the grim days before and during the Second World War, and perhaps it was this that made the memories of her country childhood shine so brightly. She grew up as the daughter of a builder’s labourer in a poor Oxfordshire hamlet in the last years of the nineteenth century, yet she instinctively knew how to write, and these three books are a unique record of a rural world that would soon disappear for ever.
Lark Rise, the first book, sees Flora – or Laura as she called her childhood self – growing up in the hamlet of Juniper Hill, the ‘Lark Rise’ of the title. From the annual killing of the pig to the flowers in the cottage gardens, and the memories of the older residents, the life of the hamlet is recalled in magical detail, a close-up, child’s-eye view of a small, self-sufficient world.
In Over to Candleford life begins to open out for Laura when she goes to visit her father’s relations in the local market town where she makes particular friends with her uncle Tom, a liberal thinker and respected craftsman, who shares with her his love of books and his talent for attracting interesting and often eccentric people.
Back at home and now in her teens, Laura is restless and undecided about her future, until news comes of a vacancy for an assistant at the Post Office in a nearby village. Candleford Green is an enchanting picture of Laura’s new life in this colourful community and of Dorcas Lane, her redoubtable – and unforgettable – employer.
‘You are going to be loved by people you’ve never seen and never will see,’ a gypsy tells Laura. It was a prophecy that turned out to be true. Flora’s beautiful memoir has never gone out of fashion and is as consoling today as it was in the dark times in which it was written.
On Juniper Hill
Flora Thompson’s Lark Rise has always felt like home. A romantic notion, perhaps, from someone brought up in the 1970s and ’80s, rather than a century ago, as Flora was. I first read it when I...Read more
An Understanding Heart
I can’t remember when I first read the magical trilogy that came to be known as Lark Rise to Candleford but, turning to it for comfort during the days of the 2020 lockdowns, I was struck afresh by...Read more
Lark Rise | From the Slightly Foxed bookshelves
Introducing the latest addition to the Slightly Foxed Editions list, No. 58: Flora Thompson, Lark Rise, published 1 March. Lark Rise – and its sequels Over to Candleford and Candleford...Read more