After “dragging it out as long as (she) could Claire (The Captive Reader) has blogged that she has “finally finished reading Blue Remembered Hills by Rosemary Sutcliff”. She writes that “Sutcliff’s memoir of her childhood and early adulthood is delightfully-written but cruelly slim. I rationed myself, reading only little bits at a time, trying to savour the treat as long as possible”. She goes on:
The danger of childhood memoirs is always that they might descend into that treacly swamp of sentimentality that can only leave the reader feeling queasy and the author, one hopes, embarrassed. This is decidedly not one of those memoirs. Sutcliff is affectionate in her remembrances but never boringly nostalgic for days gone by or pitying for the circumstances she faced. She has a marvellous sense of humour and wonderful eye for detailing, making the reader feel part of the episodes she shares with us.
It was a delight to be reminded of specific passages, such as this one about Rosemary not learning to read and not wanting to (Rosemary Sutcliff could not read until she was about ten):
…I still had my inability to read. My father now joined the battle, and had small serious talks with me.
‘When you can read to yourself, old girl, you will find a whole new world opening up to you.’
‘Yes, Daddy,’ said I. Polite but unconvinced.
He resorted to bribery. I longed to model things. He bought me a box of ‘Barbola’ modelling clay with all its accompanying paraphernalia, and promised me I should have it when I could read.
‘You can’t go on like this for ever!’ he said.
‘No, Daddy,’ I agreed. I had every intention of going on like it for ever.
‘Don’t say “No, Daddy”.’