Akenfield, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


This colourful, perceptive portrayal of English country life reverberates with the voices of the village inhabitants, from the reminiscences of survivors of the Great War evoking days gone by, to the concerns of a younger generation of farm-workers and the fascinating and personal recollections of, among others, the local schoolteacher, doctor, blacksmith, saddler, district nurse and magistrate.

Providing insights into farming, education, welfare, class, religion and death, Akenfield forms a unique document of a way of life that has, in many ways, disappeared.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: general
  • ISBN: 9780141187921

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Ronald Blythe offers a miniaturist version of one of Studs Terkel's oral histories. Where Terkel takes the vast canvas of the United States to chart social attitudes and social changes, Blythe records the voices of a single English village (though Akenfield does not really exist and is an amalgam of three actual villages) at a time of fundamental change within rural Suffolk: 1968. Recently re-issued as a Penguin Classic, the result is fascinating and moving, a record of a society shifting rapidly into modernity, but one which, reading 40 years on, still seems of a very different world to today. Personal favourites are the blacksmith, a young trade union organiser, a young shepherd and a magistrate, but every single voice is worth reading. The only criticism I have is that the book lacks female voices. It is structured mainly around professions in the village and so rarely gives the opportunity for women to speak. Awesome book.

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