AS THE TWIG IS BENT: Sketches of a Bittersweet Life by Winifred Foley

AS THE TWIG IS BENT: Sketches of a Bittersweet Life

Email this review


A 1920s Gloucestershire girlhood: one of those vibrant, unpretentious memoirs written with an easily shared enthusiasm. Although the toast and tea meals often left ""Poll"" hungry, the Mason family's pinched circumstances were not unrelieved: Mam often finagled a bit of liver or a fancy cake by buying late, and Dad worked in the pit but looked beyond it. He read widely, talked freely (of Einstein, Darwin, Shaw, Lenin), and even more remarkably, learned sign language to converse with the village's lone deaf-mute. Poll also had her favorites: secondhand comics like Marzipan the Magician and The Two Pickles and such treasured school books as Black Beauty, Lorna Doone, and Treasure Island. Blessed with perfect recall for the set of the trees and the feel of the scene, she faithfully reconstructs those childhood epiphanies--a hat untrimming itself as she speaks onstage, anticipations of a midnight death after the local witch's blackberry tarts, a dinner-movie-car-ride gift from a very special teacher, and cherished graduation presents, including ""a comb with all the teeth in."" At fourteen, like other girls in her insulated Forest of Dean village, she went into service, and those first forays find her conscientious, ingenuously cheeky, and very homesick--she quits each job after four or six months and enjoys a brief reunion. By the seventh job she's matured and searching for a cross between Dad and Clark Gable; by the eighth she's found a more plausible candidate named Syd Foley. Already a BBC series (Great Performances' ""Abide with Me""), these tangy remembrances will leave you ""vull as a egg.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1978
Publisher: Taplinger