If you've ever smiled wistfully when reading through one of the "You know you're a child of the seventies if ..." lists online, you'll love Abbie Ross's nostalgic memoirs of her 1970's childhood in rural Wales. As an outsider - her family moved to a remote mountainside cottage from busy, cosmopolitan London - we ease into rural life along with the narrator, marvelling at the hippy commune up the road, the rather eccentric neighbours and the small-town shenanigans.
I frequently smiled as a quick reference to something opened a door in my mind to one of my own childhood memories - fizzy Refresher sweets, Tiswas, Findus crispy pancakes, the driver smoking on the school bus, all things that made me squeal "oh yes, I remember that too !". I found it really interesting to look back at the world through the eyes of a child and see that things from my own childhood may well have been more sinister than I ever realised. Just like young Abbie, I had a boy at school who would regularly come in with a black eye and knew that there was a local oddball who would give you a bag of sweets if you went round to his house to watch telly with him - it seems unbelievable now that, even though it was pretty much public knowledge, nobody - child or adult - ever really batted an eyelid or thought it was suspicious.
It's hilarious to watch child Abbie eavesdrop on grown-up conversations with all the subtext going right over her head, or even innocently get involved in playing Welsh Nash at school, burning down the makebelieve houses of the English invaders without realising that she is one ! Other memories are more poignant and, as the book draws to a close, we see the shadow of the more sinister evils of the eighties (Abbie mentions drugs, but from my own memories, I'd add AIDS and mass unemployment) encroaching on and tolling the death knell for the happy, carefree days of the seventies.
There's a widespread belief that we all have a book in us waiting to be written and, although I didn't have the same delightfully eccentric neighbours and bucolic setting as Abbie, I think mine would look a lot like Hippy Dinners. It's an amusing and enjoyable trip down memory lane for anyone who was growing up in the seventies in the UK, even if it wasn't on a Welsh mountainside !
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £8.99
Disclosure : I received a copy of the book from BritMums Book Club, in order to write an honest review.