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Suggest me a Persephone Book!(33 Posts)
Following on from my post about visiting London for the day solely to book shop I'm planning on popping into Persephone Books.
Absolutely brand new to this publisher, can you please suggest your best recommendation as a good place to start with their range. I will try my best to limit myself to 2-3 books as I'll be visiting other places.
They usually do 3 for 2or similar so aim to get three.
I just go there, browse around a bit and pick 3 I fancy. now. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember much about any of them (same for any book I read these days!) but I think I’ve rarely had a dud.
The first I read was Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary.
Hostage to Fortune
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
The Far Cry
Oh yes, Miss Pettigrew, and then you can watch the film with the delicious Lee Pace and fabulous Frances McDormand.
Ooh I love a Persephone book, have a massive collection.
There's quite a range so it depends what you like but some of my favourites are:
The Making of a Marchioness
Miss Buncle's Book
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
(all the above also have happy endings - a lot of the other books are brilliant but very sad so these are the ones I come back to!)
Thanks to posters so far! Yes I've heard some have terribly sad endings.
And apologies for my appallingly structure post title - I think I need to read more to get my grammar in check!
* The Making of a Marchioness
Miss Buncle's Book
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day*
All among my most favourite books ever.
Miss Pettigrew is glorious. I never tire of it.
And yes, the film is great (apart from Shirley Henderson's very silly voice).
Here are three of my favourites
Plats du Jour ~ Patience Gray (The forerunner of the Elizabeth David cookery books)
It's Hard to be Hip Over Thirty ~ Judith Viorst (Wry & dry humour set in verse)
Madame Solario ~ Gladys Huntington (Goings on around Lake Como)
The beauty of the books are a major part of their delight for me!
Off the top of my head :-
The Village by Marghanita Laski,
Little Boy Lost also by Marghanita Laski
And, probably my favourite,
The New House by Lettice Cooper
My 3 faves so far:
The Fortnight in September (just heartbreakingly sublime)
The offer's not 3 for 2 but they have a price per book and then a deal for buying 3, so I always buy 3 at a time (I have bought 6 a couple of times but I have so many from the imprint now that it's normally getting the new ones and working out what to buy of the ones I don't own/don't own in Persephone (they have published a few which I had in previous editions from other publishers).
It's £33 for 3 - can't remember price per book.
You can find more information about the books in their catalogue by looking at the Persephone website.
A lot of their books are originally written/published in the early-mid 20th century and there are a few about each world war, including some fiction and non fiction about WWII and about Nazism before the war (the founder of Persephone Books is herself the daughter of a German Jewish refugee couple who settled in London before she and her older sister were born). There are also several novels about suffragettes and an assortment of non fiction.
My personal favourites include
Barbara Euphan Todd, Miss Ranskill Comes Home - Miss Ranskill was marooned on a desert island for a few years, and has made it home only to discover it's wartime (WWII) and there are all kinds of issues of rationing. Some serious issues but a lot of humour in the handling of the way the war changed Britain.
Noel Streatfeild, Saplings - Streatfeild initially wrote for adults though most of these books have only just been reissued through small publishers (this is the only one from Persephone but many of the others are available as ebooks, several for under £3 at the moment). This is a rather sad story of a very dysfunctional middle class family but it's a good read, though I did buy a charity shop copy for my mum and then worry about giving it to her because it's so sad.
D L Stevenson, Miss Buncle's Book - lovely social comedy about a woman who writes a novel satirising the people around her in her village.
Rose Allatini, Despised and Rejected - Banned after publication in 1918, during the last year of WW1, for its portrait of conscientious objectors during war time (and lesbianism). I find it really interesting to read some of the wartime novels about wartime, as well as historical novels and those written with hindsight a few years later.
I'm reading The Call by Edith Ayrton Zangwill, about a female academic (research scientist) who becomes a suffragette, at the moment.
There are about 135 books in the catalogue, and if the topics of these don't appeal there are some more good family and domestic novels, some families happier than others, ones about career women, a few more recent publications, a few reprints, collections of short stories, poetry, household tips..... and a few books by men (The Fortnight in September is another interesting social comedy novel).
The Biannually has come through the post today, so I'll take that away with me next week!
So far on my initial short list I have
Mrs Buncle’s Book
Somebody at a Distance
Little Boy Lost
On The Other Side - Letters to my children (I have a work connection with Hamburg, so that's of specific interest)
I need to go for at least one happy one out of three!
Miss Buncle's Book is quite a happy one!
I wrote about my selection on the other thread. The grey cover books are £13 each or 3 for £33. The Persephone classics (picture covers) are £10. They have a flickable copy of their catalogue on the website.
It was very enjoyable to browse the shop. I had gone in out of curiousity, not intending to buy, and yet came out with 3 books. And have since ordered some secondhand via Abebooks...
The only drawback is that because of the time a lot of the books were written (early 20th century) most of them seem to be about upper/middle class lifestyles (having servants, etc). I don't know if that is representative of all fiction of that period or whether it's just what Persephone have chosen to publish. I'm working my way through the short stories so it will be interesting to see if the later writing has a different focus.
It's true a lot of the books do have that servant/mistress element Plexie. You do have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy them as social and cultural history. The better ones have more to them to them than that. I have had to choose whether to cringe through descriptions of old faithful cooks or housekeepers who only exist as a caricature; dropping their aitches and going on about their corns typically. Then you find the author was considered left wing at the time!
The book I recommended The Village has this as the central theme of the book, a romance between a couple one of whom is working class and the other very much middle class.
It is eye opening to see how important these things were to society, just about in living memory. Makes you feel appreciative of our modern lives!
YY to Miss Pettigrew!!
Also consider Kitchen Essays by Agnes Jekyll
It's probably true that what was published and what was widely available to read (through sale and libraries) was even more dominated by upper middle class and upper class writers, as were the characters, and that even when writers' attention turned to the working classes, there were less working class, and even lower middle class, writers to write about themselves. And this was even more the case for women than for men. Round About a Pound a Week is about the lives of working class women, but I understand that it was written by a more middle class Fabian woman - she did at least go and talk to working class women about their experiences and views.
Ooh, what a lovely treat.
Top three: Someone at a Distance (or any Dotty Whipple, she's the dog's)
A Diary of a Provincial Lady (funniest book in the universe, imho)
Daddy's Gone A-Hunting by Pen Mortimer, a feminist classic, just brilliant.
They were sisters by Dorothy Whipple
Consequences EM Delafield
High Wages by Dorothy Whipple - I can read this again and again
Can I put in a (strong) recommendation for Doreen by Barbara Noble? A heartbreakingly sad but beautifully-written novel about a WW2 evacuee.
And - a bit different, as it's American, and reads like a tense film noir script - The Expendable Man by Dorothy B Hughes. A brilliant book with a stonking great twist - which I won't breathe a word about - by an author who saw three of her books picked up by Hollywood (though not this one).
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