Roses in December

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This is a charming and poignant memoir of childhood in 1920s Ulster as seen through the eyes of the young Hilary Gibson. Everyday life in the bustling and prosperous city of Belfast is contrasted with the gentler pace of life in the country, where Hilary spent her summer holidays each year.

The daily round of middle class life is beautifully drawn, with vivid descriptions of domestic interiors, the rituals of mealtimes, the scents and tastes produced in the kitchen, the succession of pets including a parrot, buying school uniform in the city’s department stores, and jolly family parties. As well as her sociable mother, disappointed father and big sister, Hilary evokes the loving and beloved figure of Aggie, the ‘Angel of her Childhood’, who was the steadfast centre of her young life.

In the homes of her aunts and cousins in South County Derry and County Tyrone, Hilary savours the slower and softer pace of life. The country child is intoxicated by the smell of the meadowsweet and the new-mown hay, the taste of milk straight from the cow, the swish of the goose's wing as it sweeps up the flour on the breadboard, the sight of the heavy horses pulling the different carts and the feel of eggs warm from the hen.

Yet beneath the happy memories, we see glimpses of a darker world, which the child cannot yet understand: the sad fate of an unmarried mother, a handsome young man tricked into a loveless marriage, the barefoot delivery boy.

This perceptive memoir sets the daily trivia of an innocent childhood within the broader social and economic changes taking place through the 1920s, and is not just beautifully written but of historical significance.



  • Format: Paperback / Softback
  • Published On: 30 November 2012
  • Publisher: Willow Books
  • ISBN / EAN: 9781909473027
  • Page Count: 280