Hippy Dinners by Abbie Ross

By | August 21, 2015

The latest BritMums Book Club book was Hippy Dinners by Abbie Ross:

In 1972 Abbie Ross’s cosmopolitan parents move the family from London to rural North Wales, exchanging a town house in Islington for a remote farmhouse on a hill. Abbie’s Liverpudlian grandparents – dedicated followers of Liberace, sleek in scented mohair and patent leather – are sure they’ve lost their minds. For Abbie, though, the only cloud on the horizon is the nearby hippy commune and its inhabitants. There are worrying signs that this is the sort of ‘better life’ that her parents have in mind.

Hippy Dinners by Abbie Ross

Brilliantly evoking a particular time and place, Abbie’s memoir re-creates a world of dens and pineapple chunks, of John Craven’s Newsround and fishing for sticklebacks – and the joy but also the burning powerlessness of being a child. Disgusted by her father’s ‘yogic flying’ and her mother’s taste for brown bread and billowing cheesecloth (with no bra), Abbie is desperate not to be different. Far better, she thinks, to fit in with shouting, pathologically nosy Lisa across the fields,or stay close to Philip next door – paralysingly shy and with a preference for orange food and no trousers (‘nice to have a bit of air’) …

Rich with detail that reveals a whole world, Hippy Dinners is very funny and full of heart. It is also a delicate and astute portrait of the brutal realities of ‘a simple life’.

I was quite excited to get hold of this book. As a child of the late 70s I thought it would be a fun and easy read. I’ve taken it everywhere with me, on holidays, on the tube, to my son’s swimming lessons but I’ve found it really hard to get into. So far I’m up to Chapter 9 but I have to be honest and say I don’t find it very engaging and I can’t really say why.

Like Abbie, I’m a City girl and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I’m fortunate that my parents never dragged me away from civilisation and I hope my children always agree with our choice of ‘home’. I’ve only read positive reviews of this book so I’ll be picking it up once the children are back at school and giving it another go.

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