As Green as Grass
‘A delight’ – Spectator
‘An entrancing memoir’ – Jane Shilling, New Statesman
‘A wonderful journey beautifully told, and like all great memoirs, remains with the reader like the echo of friendship’ – Independent on Sunday
The new memoir from the author of Maidens’ Trip and The Great Western Beach; a remarkable story of a young woman growing up against the backdrop of the Second World War, and postwar life in India, Paris and bohemian Chelsea
Uprooted from her beloved Great Western Beach, Emma Smith moves with her family from Newquay to the Devonshire village of Crapstone. But the dust has hardly settled when tragedy strikes, and Emma’s father, a DSO-decorated hero of the Great War, is so frustrated by the hardship of life as a lowly bank clerk and by his thwarted artistic ambitions that he suffers a catastrophic breakdown – from which disaster Emma’s resourceful mother rallies courageously. Then, in 1939, the war again becomes a reality.
Emma’s sister Pam at once enlists with the WAAF and Jim, her politically minded brother, after initially declaring himself a pacifist, joins the RAF. But what should Emma, aged only sixteen, do? Secretarial collage equips her for a job with MI5 but it’s dull work and Emma yearns for fresh air. She is rescued by a scheme taking on girls as crew for canal boats. Freedom! The war over, Emma travels to India with a documentary film company, lives in Chelsea, falls in love in France and spends time in Paris where she sets about mending a broken heart by writing her first novel. Sitting beside the Seine during a heatwave with her typewriter on her knees, she is unwittingly snapped by legendary photographer Robert Doisneau.
The zest, thirst for life and buoyant spirits of Emma, as she recalls in evocative detail the quality of England in the thirties and forties give As Green as Grass the feel of a ready-made classic.
‘Evocative and arresting … hugely engaging’ – Daily Express
‘One envies Emma Smith’s precise and sly humour in her portrait of life’ – Michael Ondaatjie
‘Optimistic, generous and thoroughly enjoyable’ – Giulia Rhodes, Sunday Express
‘I’ve rarely come across a more gripping childhood memoir’ – Diana Athill
‘A cracking memoir’ – Bel Mooney, Daily Mail
Smith tells the story of her teenage and adult years up to 1951 with her customary verve, precision and humour ... As Green as Grass, she says, is definitely her last book ... But there is a twinkle in her eye. I hope it's not true. I'm desperate to know what happens next * Observer * A delight * Spectator * There are memoirs that barrel along happily, due to the swift clip of a life well lived, and there are those lifted by the vivacity of the voice. Emma Smith's As Green As Grass exhibits a rare marriage of both virtues ... A wonderful journey beautifully told, and like all great memoirs, remains with the reader like the echo of friendship * Independent on Sunday * Evocative and arresting ... hugely engaging ... Told in three sections it is a clear-headed and engagingly candid account of the formative life of an intelligent young woman ...The afterword will break your heart * Daily Express * I loved Emma Smith's evocative childhood memoir, The Great Western Beach, and am just as excited about As Green as Grass ... A captivating coming of age * Woman & Home * Emma Smith has written a book that should - and I hope does - endure as a classic among memoirs of childhood. I savoured every page * Miranda Seymour, on The Great Western Beach * One envies Emma Smith's precise and sly humour in her portrait of life * Michael Ondaatjie * I've rarely come across a more gripping childhood memoir * Diana Athill * Wonderfully written, humorous and humane, and beautifully evocative of the time * Independent, on Maidens' Trip * Optimistic, generous and thoroughly enjoyable -- Giulia Rhodes * Sunday Express * Emma Smith's previous memoirs, Maidens' Trip and The Great Western Beach were both highly regarded as modern classics. Smith's final memoir in the trilogy will no doubt be given the same accolade * The Lady * An entrancing memoir, a dazzling evocation of what it is like to be young, quick-witted, hopeful and very slightly silly. It is much more than all right. And now, please, for the next volume -- Jane Shilling * New Statesman * Irresistible ... With any luck she will give us a sequel to this captivating memoir -- Iain Finlayson * Saga * A cracking memoir -- Bel Mooney * Daily Mail * A beguiling evocation of what it is to be young, talented, hopeful and very slightly silly -- Jane Shilling * New Statesman Books of the Year * Delightful -- Elizabeth Grice * Oldie *
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?