Quiet, Unassuming Read
Made in Yorkshire: 1964 is exactly what the title says: a story of the life of one boy (Richard Warren) in Ledder Bridge, Yorkshire in 1964. Quiet, yet engaging, it’s a gentle read that nevertheless touches harsh things.
From exploring a quarry with his older brother, to getting a job in a pub (not during drinking hours), to meeting the local drunk and the rich nobleman’s son, Richard faces his experiences with one prime motivation: curiosity. His desire to see things, to learn, to be a part of things drives him out to discover the surprising adventures his small town holds. There’s a whole world out there to explore, and right now Richard has his hands full with Ledder Bridge.
Even a child like Richard can’t be shielded from suffering. Although the World Wars are over, the memories of them still touch the lives of those who fought. Richard’s father, the barkeep, and another close friend all deal with their experiences in slightly different ways. The older Rich gets, the more he faces these “adult” things.
Richard’s family and friends also face poverty; as a small farming family in a small country village, some of the things other people in the ’60s take for granted aren’t available to them. Richard, however, takes this with characteristic child-like indifference—at least until he starts learning about the cool new things the outer world has to offer.
At times, Rich’s experiences stir genuine emotions, without being overblown. Mr. Farner does well letting the story actions, not overwrought prose, evoke feelings in us.
If you’re looking for the novel equivalent of an Avengers movie, this isn’t it. Rather, it’s the simple account of an ordinary boy, and the way your own life always seems extraordinary to you. Richard may not be saving the world, but he’s out to explore and save his world, and for a nine-year-old, that’s challenge and adventure enough.
Mr. Farner is no Tolkien; there’s nothing inherently wrong with that (I’m not Tolkien, either), but some parts of the book, especially toward the end, could have done with another editing sweep. However, that didn’t keep me from understanding the action or pursuing the tale through the end of the book.
I also noticed a worldview divide between me and Richard’s family. As Rich watches the way his experiences affect his family, he questions the fundamental principles on which he has depended – if not as something he himself adheres to, at least as something stable his family was anchored to. I understand his mental progression, even if his family and mine differ on our innate beliefs.
1964 is an enjoyable, easy-going read, with just enough flavor of the English countryside to make it feel real (as opposed to a stilted American imitation of Great Britain). Put in the extra brain effort, and the book will reward you as Richard Warren, in his own unassuming way, tells his story.
This book is available as a FREE Kindle download on Amazon (here). Although there’s no cliffhanger to be afraid of, the continuation of Richard’s life story is available in the rest of James Farner’s Made In Yorkshire series. Book two, 1969, is available here. The author’s website is JamesFarnerAuthor.com (here).
Disclaimer: Although I got my copy of 1964 as a free ebook, I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise. Views expressed are my own.
Cover image is used with the permission of the author.