Richard Jefferies

Amaryllis at the Fair

A family struggling to make ends meet becomes a framework for a description of rural English country life.

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Amaryllis at the Fair is a work of fiction largely based on Richard Jefferies’ childhood in rural England. The author tenderly shows the difficulties and beauties of rural life in a family struggling to make ends meet. The narrative, such as there is one, focuses on young Amaryllis and her observations and interactions with her family and people from the surrounding towns.

The novel is written in a style that does not place much emphasis on story, and instead goes into great detail on topics as varied as country life, strong ale, the construction of a good fence, the disappointments of age, the joys and troubles of family, and poverty. These topics are often commented on by the narrator, who acts as a stand-in for Jefferies.

Amaryllis at the Fair was the last novel written by Richard Jefferies before his death. “The book is not a novel,” or some variation, was a common response from critics. It follows its own paths and often eschews traditional plot, instead providing a fluid and clear view of the life of the family at the heart of the book.