Until I took this on holiday with me, I had only vaguely seen a rose-tinted TV adaptation. It completely prejudiced my view - I didn't want to read some sentimental crap about village life in the early 20th century that would fit well with John Major's warm spinsters and beer on bicycles, or whatever it was he went on about it. Various different editions with soft-focus covers featuring pretty maids of the fields and lusty youths didn't help.
Then I saw a copy of Red Sky at Sunrise, containing Cider with Rosie, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, and A Moment of War, in the bookshop and thought, fuck it, everyone else has bloody well read this, so will I. I was pleasantly surprised.
The book depicts Laurie's early life in a Cotswolds village without any sentiment at all, really. People are cold, hungry, impoverished, but their lives are lived with a flourish of character.
The title doesn't refer to a young Laurie having a drink with an ancient pagan wise woman of the village, as I'd always suspected and rejected with a resounding "Yuck," but his awakening sexuality with the rather-more-worldly-and-knowing Rosie of the title.