Summerbook #17: Word From Wormingford
Ronald Blythe is the fellow who collected and edited Akenfield, in which villagers talked about how things were in the old days (yes, people were closer knit, but no, it wasn't better). I really enjoyed that book and when I saw this one described, I'm not sure what I thought it would be like, but I knew I wanted to read it. Whatever I expected, this wasn't it, but it was a nice surprise.
Ronald Blythe turns out to be a clergyman, working in three village parishes in Suffolk. The one he lived in is Wormingford, and the book collects selections of the weekly pieces he would write for the parish news -- these date from 1993 - 1996, so presumably he went through and picked his favorites, and I think there is more than one for every week. They are titled by the church calendar: Second Trinity, St Dunstan, and so on, but there are more than four in a month. The pieces are meditations on the season, on the people of the village, and on nature; just nice short essays describing life in a country parish.
It doesn't seem like a long book, but it is dense, and best read at a leisurely pace to suit the writing. It's no good trying to get through a whole month at once. So I started it in June, and am only finishing it now. Like the Penny mystery, it features a lot of winter, and begins and ends in a December. There was lots of summer, too, and he talks a lot about the barley and wheat ripening in the intense heat.
I enjoyed this collection, but it's certainly a niche book, mostly for people who like reading about the British countryside and old churches.