Book Review: ‘A Rose for Winter’ by Laurie Lee

a rose for winter - laurie lee 29-4-13In 1955 when Lee writes, Spain is a broken country. He travels through Andalucía, observing post-war Spain. My favourite chapter is Granada, which he describes as ‘an African paradise set under the Sierras like a rose preserved in snow,’ a city to this day [in 1955] ‘dominated by the spirit of Islam.’ Picking up on the generosity of spirit shown in As I walked out one Midsummer Morning, on Christmas Eve he finds a cheap café called The House of Peace.
Elviria, the cook, describes Nochebuena: ‘In Granada no-one sleeps on such a night. All the world goes to the streets. There will be walking and singing all through the town… stupendous noise all night. You wait. You will be much diverted.”
She invites the writer and his family into her house for the feast. ‘At nine o’clock we have a big feast here, with all the family at a long table. There will be wine and butter-cakes and all you can eat. The grandmother invites you, and so does Don Porfino.”
The morning after the night before, Christmas Day, a day not celebrated seriously by the Spanish, the writer goes to the Alhambra Palace, ‘into the fresh gold air under the crimson roofs, to walk among the courts and fountains, to stroke the plump lemons and watch the fish.’
It makes me want to go to Granada again, every time I read it.
5 to remember
la nochebuena – Christmas Eve
el paraiso – paradise
la rosa – rose
la nieve – snow
el espiritu – spirit

1 thought on “Book Review: ‘A Rose for Winter’ by Laurie Lee

  1. Pingback: Book review: Midnight in Europe | Notes on a Spanish Valley

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