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Women on Wednesday

November 6, 2013

I came across this book while looking for another, this yesterday morning.  Drawn by the illustrations and title Honey pots and brandy bottles.  The book by Eiluned Lewis and  published by Country Life in 1954 tells the story of a country woman’s everyday life.   The honey  pot in the title refers to the small, endless tasks which a worker bee fulfills so much better than the most impeccable housewife.  The brandy bottle is the name of the common yellow water lily  as a symbol of leisure of summers days by the river.  

This is one countrywoman’s year; a distillation from her experiences through the seasons.The author’s starting points are the commonplaces of country living; visiting, being visited, holidays abroad, excursions at home, point-to-points, ploughing matches, children growing up, household pets, beekeeping, church going, books read, household duties done and all things that shapes the pattern of country days.

I was able to dip This little idyll into during my lunch break.  It was written at the same time I also lived beside a river.  The comparisons in part were of course extreme and laughable.  There were serious conversations about the the advantage of boarding school over day school while living in the country … the distractions for a child while doing ‘prep’ was far too much! There was deep meaningful debate about the ‘adornment of the nursery walls as the children get older.  Going on holiday to Egypt, Madam buying liver in the local market so cook pate de foie for supper.

Then there was a similarity … she tells of ‘merely sitting on the piece of sea shore, discovering tar on ones clothes and sand in the hard boiled eggs’  Then having cricket with an iron spade for a bat and drift wood for the stump.

I perhaps didn’t sit for long, and would have taken the driftwood home for the fire and maybe be I was getting a bit carried away with the hard boiled egg and I didn’t notice that the ‘sky was as soft as a pigeon’s breast’


Then the author not forgetting the small rivers, ‘serene, sparkling clear and starred with beauties’ illustrated  by Agnes Miller Parker.

Janet Eiluned Lewis (1900-1979) was a Welsh novelist, poet and journalist.She worked on the Sunday Times and she became the assistant editor. From 1944 until her death she wrote for the the magazine Country Life.

Agnes Miller Parker (1895-1980) was an engraver and illustrator, born in Ayrshire; but spent most of her working life in London and southern Britain. She married the painter William McCance.  It was suggested that Parker’s first paintings with her husbands reflected the  works of a short-lived group of artists known as the Vorticists ( a modernist movement inspired by the Cubists) active in the 1920s The main body of her work consists of wood engravings for book illustrations; such as The fables of Aesop (1931) Though the woods by H.E. Bates etc.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2013 3:04 pm

    Great post, thank you for sharing your find!

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