Under the Apple Boughs, by Peter Maughan is a year spent in an unnamed, village somewhere in North Devon with an equally unnamed narrator, but these things don’t matter, the cast of the book are the wonderful village and the more than colourful characters who, after reading the book I’d love to have a pint with at The Pike Inn.
A year in the village is a wonder unto itself, every scene is painted like a brushstroke from Constable, carefully choosing every shade of green for the village grass before the cider fuelled locals arrive. Under the Apple Boughs paints this village life with a lyrical sumptuousness that the reader can almost taste the apples in the cider, every scene narrated to perfection, and often with hilarious storytelling. Everyone whose been to a family wedding will recognise the story on these pages.
Introducing characters such as Mr Combes, Jim Howel and Wilf Perkin in a pub comparing the worst winters ever, akin to the famous Four Yorkshiremen sketch, is probably the most splendid way to start a book after setting the scene, creating the melodrama of the start of the year with its full moon on a clear January sky, the pub feels like the perfect place to be on such a night.
Under the Apple Boughs is some of the most enchanting storytelling I’ve read in a very long time. This is a book that needs to be read frequently, and I don’t say that often!
• Under the Apple Boughs by Peter Maughan is published by Hobnob Press (£9.95). To order a copy go to llareggubbooks.com