Salad Days – Allie Cresswell | Book Review | #SaladDays @Alliescribbler

“My earliest memory is of you, Arthur. We were children, running across the garden at Granny’s house. The sun on your hair made it look like copper wire. Then you stopped, and I cannoned into you. We both went headlong into the rockery. It was 1964, the summer before I started school, so I was nearly five. You would have been just three. It’s strange, isn’t it? That my first memory is of you. Or maybe it isn’t very strange at all.”

Prudence and Arthur take a nostalgic trip down memory lane to the sixties and seventies; turbulent, changeful years that contrasted with their idyllic childhood at ‘Salad Days,’ the market garden run by Prue’s extended family.

But was it idyllic? Tragedy makes uneasy waypoints in their journey of recollection, and Arthur’s overbearing father casts a dark pall. How did he inveigle himself into Prue’s close-knit family circle? What was his hold on them?

As Prue and Arthur retrace their youthful attempts to get to the facts, it’s clear that truth and memory aren’t always the same.

What of the mysteries that defy the clarity of hindsight? The uncanny auspices of eccentric Mrs Glenister, latest in the line of ‘peculiar’ Glenister wives—why did she only materialise at times of calamity? And most oddly of all, why, in all their reminiscing, does Arthur never speak a word?

Memory is a curious thing—unreliable and awkward. Shaping it into an account Prue and Arthur can both live with might take a lifetime. Or two.


My thanks to Allie Cresswell for the invitation to take part in her book tour and for the ecopy to review. Allie is no stranger to this blog, she has appeared previously with Guest Posts and after enjoying her previous book The Widows Weeds so much last year I was delighted to have the opportunity to review this. Self published (7 June 2024), Salad Days is available in ebook and paperback formats.

Salad Days is a story told over 5 timelines and 60 years, beginning in the early 1960’s. Prudence is our narrator, reflecting on a life from the early days of childhood and encompassing the drama, resentments, joys, love, sadness and death that touched the Day family and those around them.

This is very much a story of memory, and hearing only from Prudence, we have to take on trust that her memories are accurate – or are they? Perception is so personal and in the innocence and naivety of childhood our views of life, and people, can be distorted and tainted.

The lives of the Days and the neighbouring Glenisters were very much intertwined, a situation not always welcomed by Prue whose young eyes regarded Arthur Glenister as a ‘cuckoo in the nest’. The Days ran their market garden business from the family home ‘Broadacres’, just through the woods from Glenister Hall, an imposing and somewhat dilapidated building. Whilst early family life at Broadacres was idyllic, the same couldn’t be said for the Hall.

Salad Days is beautifully written with great attention to detail that is evocative and nostalgic. As we pass through the decades, we see how the ever changing social cultures have affected lives. There is a gentle mystery running through the story involving the families, one which Prue is desperate to solve. At times I was surprised and wrong-footed by the direction the story took.

I did wonder when I initially started reading whether just having the story told from Prue’s perspective would jar. I needn’t have worried, the characters surrounding Prue are so well written into her reflections that I felt as though I knew this family intimately. With mentions of ancient curses and it’s mystical elements, Salad Days was a book that I was utterly engrossed by. Definitely recommended and another wonderful read from a very talented author.

Allie Cresswell is the recipient of two coveted One Stop Fiction Five Star Awards and three Readers’ Favorite Awards

Allie was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

Allie recalls: ‘I was about 8 years old. Our teacher asked us to write about a family occasion and I launched into a detailed, harrowing and entirely fictional account of my grandfather’s funeral. I think he died very soon after I was born; certainly I have no memory of him and definitely did not attend his funeral, but I got right into the details, making them up as I went along (I decided he had been a Vicar, which I spelled ‘Vice’). My teacher obviously considered this outpouring very good bereavement therapy so she allowed me to continue with the story on several subsequent days, and I got out of maths and PE on a few occasions before I was rumbled.’

She went on to do a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria.

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