Recollections and reflections on reading Rosemary Sutcliff | Inspired by a Guardian editorial

Many people are moved and inspired by UK author Rosemary Sutcliff.

A Guardian editorial in March 2011 “In praise of … Rosemary Sutcliff” prompted various people to comment fondly and intriguingly upon their reading of her books, often in a childhood some years past.

liberalcynic said

I have to say I loved Rosemary Sutcliff‘s books when I was a kid. They opened undiscovered worlds and – perhaps more importantly – they didn’t talk down to my eleven year old self

thegirlfrommarz also “loved Rosemary Sutcliff’s books as a child” and “still loves them as an adult”. Like liberalcynic she thought that ” … they never talked down to you”. The Eagle of the Ninth was one of her favourites, although Continue reading “Recollections and reflections on reading Rosemary Sutcliff | Inspired by a Guardian editorial”

The Captive Reader finally finishes reading Blue Remembered Hills by Rosemary Sutcliff

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”.’

‘No, Daddy.’

The full, enjoyable post is here at The Captive Reader

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The likes of Rosemary Sutcliff I have never found anywhere else | Thoughts on reading The Flowers of Adonis

From Rosemary Sutcliff fan Anjy  Roemelt (posted at the Facebook page for Rosemary Sutcliff):

I started reading Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Flowers of Adonis today and within three pages it had me caught by the neck and submerged into the old Sutcliff magic. I have so often already thought ‘this is her best book, this will be my all-time favourite’. I thought so after I read Three Legions, I though so every time I read The Shield Ring and I certainly thought so after I had read The Shining Company, but, of course, that was before I read Dawn Wind!

I still think, Dawn Wind is perfect in every syllable but I’m fascinated by The Flowers of Adonis. I thought I could smell and hear the scene before I could see it, like dawn slowly lifting from the streets of Athens, and before I ever knew what Alcibiades looked like – far less who he is, never having been as familiar with ancient Greece than with ancient Britain – I could feel Thimoteus’ urge to follow him.

We are busy readers in my family and on our shelves the books stand three rows deep, but the likes of Rosemary Sutcliff I have never found anywhere else.

Writer E. M. Epps gives thumbs up for A Circlet of Oak Leaves by Rosemary Sutcliff.

A Circlet of Oak Leaves:  cover of book by Rosemary SutcliffA self-described “bookseller, reader, science fiction; fantasy writer, photographer, and gluten-free cook”, who signs her “name E. M. Epps”, gave a “thumbs up” for A Circlet of Oak Leaves by Rosemary Sutcliff at her blog “This space intentionally left blank”. She wrote”

A little novella taking place in Roman Britain. A slight book, but beautifully written as I would expect from Sutcliff.

“So he took them on, through a vicious squall of slingstones. Where the ground grew too steep to ride they dropped from the horses and ran on, crouching with heads down behind their light bronze-rimmed bucklers. By the time they reached the spur, hearts and lungs bursting within them, he had no idea how many or how few were still behind him; he had no chance to look round. He did not even know that many of the horses, lightened of their riders ‘ weight, had come scrambling after them, bringing their own weapons, the stallions’ weapons of teeth and trampling hooves, into the fight. He only knew that the time came when there were no more Painted Men left alive on the spur, and that the terrible boulder [perched above them], swaying as it seemed to every breath, was still there.”

Source: This Space Intentionally Left Blank – writer E. M. Epps’s blog.

For those parents out there who want their children to move on from J K Rowling

Robin Rowland used to write a blog about his writing life (he was a TV journalist) called The Garret Tree. Some eight years ago he posted When I waited for Rosemary Sutcliff

When I was a kid, Rosemary Sutcliff was my J. K. Rowling. In the early 1960s, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next Sutcliff. I lived in northern British Columbia and the waiting involved finding out when the book would arrive in the public library. In Kitimat, British Columbia, a town carved out of the bush, there were no bookstores. The local variety store and the stationary store both carried popular paperbacks delivered at the same time as magazines. 

For me, Rosemary Sutcliff created a world just as magic as Rowling’s. Somewhat like Hogwarts and Harry it was an alternative British universe. Many of her books followed one scattered family for a millennium or more, through the history of Britain from the ancient Celts through the Roman conquest and occupation, the collapse of the empire, the Saxon invasion and into the Middle Ages. It was both familiar (especially since my parents were British) and   Continue reading “For those parents out there who want their children to move on from J K Rowling”