If you love Spain, as I do, read “As I Walked Out One Mid-Summer Morning,” by English poet and author Laurie Lee.
His prose captures better than any other English language writer I’ve read the sensory impact of Spain: the sounds, smells, colors and tastes; the feel of the air and quality of the light; the complex character of Spaniards across the different regions of a peninsula permanently divided by mountain ranges. In 1934, Lee, only 20 years old, walked alone across Spain from north to south playing his violin to earn a few coins along the way. His writing depicts a nation on the verge of civil war.
I’ve loved Spain for decades. I first read Lee only three years ago. Now that I live in the UK, he’s on my literary tourism trail, which so far includes a pilgrimage to Howath in Yorkshire, the home of the Bronte sisters, and to Chalfort St. Giles the site of the country cottage in the Cotswolds where John Milton wrote “Paradise Lost.”
Lee is not well-known in the US, as far as I can tell. He is best known here in the UK for “Cider with Rosie” which depicts the village and culture of his childhood in this beautiful farming and wool production region to the north and west of London. My visit to Slad, his tiny home village in Gloucestershire, proved his lyrical descriptions accurate.
The BBC did a lovely long radio interview and web piece about him in 1997 just before he died.