To School Through Fields

To School Through Fields : An Irish Country Childhood

3.87 (281 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Alice Taylor reminds us of that time when the only fertiliser that was spread on the earth came out of the rear ends of animals and it was still possible to swim in the rivers and call on one another without invitation' - Mail on Sundayshow more

Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 136 x 206 x 14mm | 181.44g
  • O'Brien Press Ltd
  • Brandon
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • English
  • Reprinted edition
  • 0863220991
  • 9780863220999
  • 248,512

About Alice Taylor

Alice Taylor lives in the village of Innishannon in County Cork, in a house attached to the local supermarket and post office. Since her eldest son has taken over responsibility for the shop, she has been able to devote more time to her writing. Alice Taylor worked as a telephonist in Killarney and Bandon. When she married, she moved to Innishannon where she ran a guesthouse at first, then the supermarket and post office. She and her husband, Gabriel Murphy, who sadly passed away in 2005, had four sons and one daughter. In 1984 she edited and published the first issue of Candlelight, a local magazine which has since appeared annually. In 1986 she published an illustrated collection of her own verse. To School Through the Fields was published in May 1988. It was an immediate success, launching Alice on a series of signing sessions, talks and readings the length and breadth of Ireland. Her first radio interview, forty two minutes long on RTE Radio's Gay Byrne Show, was the most talked about radio programme of 1988, and her first television interview, of the same length, was the highlight of the year on RTE television's Late Late Show. Since then she has appeared on radio programmes such as Woman's Hour, Midweek and The Gloria Hunniford Show, and she has been the subject of major profiles in the Observer and the Mail on Sunday. To School Through the Fields quickly became the biggest selling book ever published in Ireland, and her sequels, Quench the Lamp, The Village, Country Days and The Night Before Christmas, were also outstandingly successful. Since their initial publication these books of memoirs have also been translated and sold internationally. In 1997 her first novel, The Woman of the House, was an immediate bestseller in Ireland, topping the paperback fiction lists for many weeks. A moving story of land, love and family, it was followed by a sequel, Across the River in 2000, which was also a bestseller. One of Ireland's most popular authors, she has continued writing fiction, non-fiction and poetry more

Review Text

Lyrical reminiscences of growing up Irish, recounted with both wistfulness and wit by a postmistress from Innishannon. Raised on a farm by a quick-tempered father and a cheerfully indulgent mother, Taylor and her six siblings enjoyed a childhood of boundless freedom as the family worked together sowing their fields, nourished themselves with their own crops and livestock, walked miles across verdant hills to and from their two-room schoolhouse, and rode their wagon to Mass in town on Sundays. As befits one whose early years were spent in such close proximity to nature, Taylor's eye is refreshingly unsentimental as she recounts local legends featuring neighbors she knew from birth, including a crone-like skinflint who hoarded her tea cake from hungry callers while allowing the beloved birds in her cottage's thatched roof practically to bring the house down; a bachelor farmer who dressed only in long johns and a long white beard; the dutiful priests who performed Mass in each house in turn, no matter how mean or eccentric its inhabitants; and the schoolteachers who punctuated monotonous sessions of rote memorization with sharp slaps on their pupils' knuckles. Informed with an earthy, childlike sensuality, these stories evoke a time when family life consisted of a procession of joyful celebrations, when neighbors tended to one another's needs as a matter of course, and when nature was a benevolent presence, intimately connected with every soul. A best-seller in Ireland, this slim collection should find a modest niche among country-loving American readers as well. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

281 ratings
3.87 out of 5 stars
5 34% (95)
4 29% (81)
3 30% (83)
2 7% (19)
1 1% (3)
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