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!Download Book ☪ Under the Apple Boughs ♴ marvellously descriptive Laurie Lee, author of Cider with Rosie A journey in the mid s through the seasons of a West Country year, stopping off for a favourite pub and to say goodbye to a dog called Bill Sikes A journey from a village and valley in the iron grip of a January morning, to the first healing colours of spring cutting into the land, to summer and the starched crackle of applause from the village cricket field, and the praise and harvest gifts in the church above the reaped fields, to the voice of Nathaniel, and a Christmas Eve in his memory when it was believed that at midnight the cattle knelt in their stalls, a voice telling of a village England that was young still when he was I m already hooked on Peter Maughan s Batch Magna novels but, even if I weren t, I d still love this book Under the Apple Boughs is literary in all the best ways lyrical authentic and filled with wonderful descriptions of England s peaceful scenery, the gentle humor of real country characters, and that magical sort of dialog that includes dialect and accent without distracting from readability There s a delightful triumph to listening in, while old men argue with youth in the local pub The I m already hooked on Peter Maughan s Batch Magna novels but, even if I weren t, I d still love this book Under the Apple Boughs is literary in all the best ways lyrical authentic and filled with wonderful descriptions of England s peaceful scenery, the gentle humor of real country characters, and that magical sort of dialog that includes dialect and accent without distracting from readability There s a delightful triumph to listening in, while old men argue with youth in the local pub There s the wonder of unique and powerful imagery And there s the comfortable passage of time in a village where people look after each other and orphaned lambs where the sea is never too far away, and neither is winter and where the author s enticing prose invites readers not just to observe but to imagine themselves, like flies on the wall, watching and sensing the scene Equally honest in describing the life of robin, badger or man, the author gently connects all, and connects his readers, with seasons and land This is a truly beautiful short trip through a year in the country, and it s highly recommended.Disclosure The author very kindly gave me a free ecopy, and I love it I loved The Cuckoos of Batch Magna But I ADORED Under the Apple Boughs I had one of those eating a decadent dessert experiences with reading it, as in, I wanted to consume it as fast as possible, but I also wanted to make it last I read it paragraph by paragraph over a tough week at work, coming home to finally settle in with some prose so lovely it brought me to tears at times Hooray for this book Hooray for Peter Maughan Truly a treasure Peter Maughan s Under the Apple Boughs is an idyll, a calendar, a photo album in prose It has many ancestors because many great and well loved English writers have celebrated their homes, and neighbours, and ways of life in country villages such as the one Maughan writes about And not just rural idylls Many English writers have celebrated gritty but cheerful industrial city urban hamlets But I digress, For me, the touchstone comparison is Dylan Thomas s elegiac A Child s Christmas in W Peter Maughan s Under the Apple Boughs is an idyll, a calendar, a photo album in prose It has many ancestors because many great and well loved English writers have celebrated their homes, and neighbours, and ways of life in country villages such as the one Maughan writes about And not just rural idylls Many English writers have celebrated gritty but cheerful industrial city urban hamlets But I digress, For me, the touchstone comparison is Dylan Thomas s elegiac A Child s Christmas in Wales , although Thomas s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog has a similar focus, across remembered years from childhood to manhood The tragedy of Thomas s wildly mis spent life is that he did not live to writelike this, or like Under Milk Wood , an almost poetry prose dream evocation of a village and its villagers, rambled though during two nights and a day.Indeed, Maughan uses a handful of lines from Dylan Thomas s rambling lyrical poem Fern Hill as epigraph for his own pictures under, and around, the apple boughs of the West Country.But there are other names cited Maughan specifically dedicates this book to the memory of Laurie Lee , famous for his childhood memories captured in Cider With Rosie Laurie Lee is, indeed, well remembered in this book, in a broad, non specific way that detracts nothing from Maughan s own original voice and stories I could mention, as literary ancestors , other West Country authors, and others from Cotswolds and the blue dreaming hills of Gloucestershire, and the Welsh Border areas A.E Housman, Elizabeth Goudge, Rosemary Sutcliffe, Alison Uttley, Kenneth Grahame who famously wrote The Wind in the Willows , but wrote other books of stories and essays that sing of the same loved countryside , T.H White, Henry Williamson, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, D.H Lawrence, George Borrow, W.H Hudson, Richard Jefferies, Maughan writes among hallowed company, and writes well At times his prose catches the lilt of Dylan Thomas, albeit with a clear sense of Maughan as the person remembering and re presenting what he has seen and still sees Indeed, sometimes Maughan s lyrically cadenced prose cries out to be savoured as free verse Consider this, for example, from Passage to Spring , as prose, or as a cascade of lines Meanwhile, the bleating of the lambs out on the fields grew lustier, short quivering bursts splitting the damp air as they followed, stiff legged, the milk and warmth of their mothers, or romped on fine days under the trees, the bare black branches running like cracks against the skyline OR Meanwhile, the bleating of the lambs out on the fields grew lustier, short quivering bursts splitting the damp airas they followed, stiff legged, the milk and warmth of their mothers, or romped on fine daysunder the trees, the bare black branches running like cracks against the skyline.In his calendar of animal themed poems, Season Songs , Ted Hughes writes of the countryside, experienced by, and through the animals and landscape, in just such a vein.Peter Maughan s Under the Apple Boughs is another song of seasons With one short story after another, we progress across a year, like a calendar, from the start of A Year s Beginning all the way to the ending of A Christmas Story This latter isa story of several Christmasses, and of Christmas memories, and of Christmas legends and, perhaps, of one old man s last Christmas It carries nearly a century of memories, along with millennia of folk myths Almost fragmentarily, we hear the legend of how the robin got its red markings a folktale told in slightlydetail by Richard Adams in his retellings of folktales, The Iron Wolf , and of Joseph of Arimathea journeying to Glastonbury, and of a thorn bush that miraculously flowers at Christmas, and of the animals in the stables that kneel at midnight on Christmas Eve, and there are glimpses of wood carvings making a Christmas manger scene, and memories of a marriage, and good times, and hard times Between the winter that begins, and the next winter that closes Under the Apple Boughs , we have memories of many hard winters from the past, a celebration of a village inn with a long history and a vibrant weekly life, several photo snapshots of Spring emerging hesitantly, but joyfully, between late flurries of unexpected snow, a day at the seaside, a roistering, tipsy country wedding, snapshots of the young new village parson struggling to find his way among the locals, the hard nosed coal merchant, the village spinster, And there is Bill Sikes This is not the brute from Dicken s Oliver Twist , although the name is borrowed from Dickens This is an incarnation of Bill Sikes dog, actually called Bull s Eye by Bill Sikes and Dickens But Maughan s dog is ALL dog, and has NO part of the Dickensian name sake thug This Bill Sikes is an apotheosis of gentle, loyal Bull s Eye , taking on his criminal bully master s name simply to celebrate vigour and self confidence Interestingly, Maughan s Bill Sikes was a real dog, and clearly predates John Barnaby s dog companion, Sykes , in recent continuations of the rural murder mystery series, Midsomer Murders , although Midsomer s Sykes is also a real dog, and a dog actor But perhaps that is another story, In Maughan s tale, Bill Sikes is a large, pure white boxer dog, six stone of packed fluent muscle, A dog of a dog, full of his prime, strutting it out, centre of the road like an invitation or a challenge wearing a black eye of dirt from a rabbit burrow, and ditch mud on his legs like disreputable socks clean on that morning, careless under the sudden beneficence of the day, heedless of how or why A Just William of a dog with the sun and the high road calling, trotting ahead with that sideways rolling gait of his, Richmal Crompton, a woman writer behind a male sounding name, is famous for her stories of William Brown Just William a rapscallion, perpetual 11 year old schoolboy, with a heart of gold, the brain of a turnip, and the ambition to be a highway man, or pirate, or circus strongman, or an English Tom Sawyer , with exasperated parents, and a worshipping gang of school chums, How deftly Maughan hints at the robust charm of his buccaneering dog by evoking Crompton s irrepressible character Maughan s brief, touching history of Bill Sikes the boxer dog is a beautiful tribute to a beautiful animal, comparable in quality and insight, despite the brevity, to John Grogan s Marley and Me , another true life story of a great dog s life and death.We can see, in Under the Apple Boughs , an English village that is bursting with life real life, documented, like scenes from a Medieval illuminated Book of Hours , or Pieter Brueghel s vivid seasonal paintings of summer harvest, and winter hunters, and a village wedding Indeed, a version of this village and its inhabitants bursts into a separate fictional life in Peter Maughan s novels of the Welsh Border river side village he calls Batch Magna In the stories told under the apple boughs, we have hints of the comical characters of Batch Magna in the to and fro banter of the drinkers in the inn, arguing over memories, opinions and history, and one upping one another, in a lightly comical P.G Wodehouseian way or do we almost hear some of Shakespeare s mechanicals, or the scallywag friends of Falstaff, chaffing one another and nattering over a brimming tankard One of the great, happy things that can happen with some small but beautiful books, such as Under the Apple Boughs , is that they sometimes have other larger siblings Read Under the Apple Boughs AFTER revelling in the life and times of Batch Magna , or read it BEFORE travelling around the corner, and over the hills and down to the river to Batch Magna Peter Maughan is creating a rich landscape world full of delightful characters all part of a solid body of work We can hope to hearfrom under the apple boughs , and can look ahead to enjoy the growing landscape of Batch Magna and its Pickwickian adventurers and adventures.Very highly recommended That is, ANYTHING written by Peter Maughan is VERY highly recommended Dr John Gough Deakin University, retired jagough49 gmail.com Wassailing, we are told, in Under the Apple Boughs, is a propitiatory practice, of course Appeasing the spirits of the fields and trees Somewhere, somehow, the spirit of writers must sense that they arethan appeased by Peter Maughan s peerless story of a year in the life of every living thing residing on the borderland between Wales and England including that magical realm where the spirits dwell Maughan truly typifies the Welsh meaning of the word Druid seer He sees, describes and Wassailing, we are told, in Under the Apple Boughs, is a propitiatory practice, of course Appeasing the spirits of the fields and trees Somewhere, somehow, the spirit of writers must sense that they arethan appeased by Peter Maughan s peerless story of a year in the life of every living thing residing on the borderland between Wales and England including that magical realm where the spirits dwell Maughan truly typifies the Welsh meaning of the word Druid seer He sees, describes and enables us to see the magic too For those who are familiar with the Peter Maughan s books about the borderlands of England and Wales this will be a delightful supplement This is not a novel, but a series of lyrically written tableaus written to highlight that ever present, but unnamed character of his Batch Magna novels which is the countryside itself Expertly and lovingly described at various points throughout the year as only someone who intimately knows the area is able to achieve it presents the area in all of its glory For those who are familiar with the Peter Maughan s books about the borderlands of England and Wales this will be a delightful supplement This is not a novel, but a series of lyrically written tableaus written to highlight that ever present, but unnamed character of his Batch Magna novels which is the countryside itself Expertly and lovingly described at various points throughout the year as only someone who intimately knows the area is able to achieve it presents the area in all of its glory This book will whet your appetite to visit the borderlands of England and Wales Oh my Crazy dull. A splendid collection of thirteen vignettes of rural life as seen through the eyes of a writer with the soul of a poet Peter Maughan paints literary landscapes with a Turner palette, all shimmery light, plays of shadows, chiaro scuro and startling detail The sense of place and the natural flow of the seasons are so strong as to become major actors in his stories while his characters, whether human or animal, stand out in full three dimensional prominence, illuminated by his compassionate human A splendid collection of thirteen vignettes of rural life as seen through the eyes of a writer with the soul of a poet Peter Maughan paints literary landscapes with a Turner palette, all shimmery light, plays of shadows, chiaro scuro and startling detail The sense of place and the natural flow of the seasons are so strong as to become major actors in his stories while his characters, whether human or animal, stand out in full three dimensional prominence, illuminated by his compassionate humanity.The prose is lyrical, nostalgic, affectionate and evocative Reading these episodes of daily life is like stopping your car on the verge of an unfamiliar village road and stepping inside the unchanging dimness of a country pub, where Maughan s people live and talk as they always have, sharing their quirks and imperfections, their pettiness and timeless wisdom Complementing his exquisite descriptions, the author has a real gift for dialogue, pulling the reader inside the scene and in amongst the stoic, weather beaten country folk who fit the locale as inevitably as the days slot into the calendar.I have several favourites, but some stand outthan the rest the story of Bill Sykes a dog of a dog withvitality and personality than most people I know Summer s End with its fabulous depiction of the calm before the summer storm and A Visit to Nathaniel for the touching treatment of ageing and the mixed blessings of a good memory This is a book to read and savour again and again, seeking out that special phrase that fits the mood and replays those faded images in your mind s eye