Ronald Blythe’s 1969 book Akenfield—a moving portrait of English country life told in the voices of the farmers and villagers themselves—is a modern classic. In 2004, writer and reporter Craig Taylor returned to the village in Suffolk on which Akenfield was based. Over the course of several months, he sought out locals who had appeared in the original book to see how their lives had changed, he met newcomers to discuss their own views, and he interviewed Ronald Blythe himself, now in his eighties. Young farmers, retired orchardmen, and Eastern European migrant workers talk about the nature of farming in an age of computerization and encroaching supermarkets; commuters, weekenders, and retirees discuss the realities behind the rural idyll; and the local priest, teacher, and more describe the daily pleasures and tribulations of village life. Together, they offer a panoramic and revealing portrait of rural English society at a time of great change.
* 'Gentle, subtle, absorbing book... the most complex and supple account of that much-discussed idea, 'modern rural life', that I have ever read' Robert Macfarlane