24 September 2011

The Persephones have arrived (plus a giveaway)

My latest batch of Persephones arrived this week. When you order directly from Peresephone you get each volume mailed to you in a separate package, and they tend to arrive spread out over a few days. So for about a week now I have been getting wonderful little packages almost every day. I ended up with a baker's dozen--12 of which I ordered, the 13th was a freebie that Persephone sent as part of a promotion. Anyone who bought at least 3 titles got a free copy of RC Sheriff's A Fortnight in September. Since I already own a copy of this wonderful novel I am going to give it away to some lucky reader in the U.S. More on that at the end of the post.

When I posted recently about ordering more Persephones, a few of you were dying to know which titles made the cut. The odd thing is when I sit down with the catalog(ue) I take great pains to figure out which ones I want. But there is so much to choose from, so many I want, and so much variety, that I tend to forget why I ordered particular titles. I will do my best to annotate the list.

No. 6 - The Victorian Chaise-longue by Marghanita Laski
I enjoyed Little Boy Lost and I already own To Bed with Grand Music and even a non-Persephone edition of her novel The Village. But more than anything I was influenced by Miranda a former-blogger who was part of the group I met last November in London. She mentioned this title and I was surprised to hear "chaise-longue" pronounced correctly. I had never looked that closely at the title and always thought it was spelled like most Americans would pronounce it: "chaise-lounge". At that moment I was fascinated but also relieved that I hadn't said the title first and embarassed myself. So now I will have to see what the book is all about.

No. 13 - Consequences by E.M. Delafield
I have only read two of Delafield's Provincial Lady diaries so I am interested to see what she is like with a more straightforward narrative.

No. 18 - Every Eye by Isobel English
I got this one because it received high praise from Muriel Spark and I would love to read a Persephone with a Sparkian sensibility.

No. 34 - Minnie's Room by Mollie Panter-Downes
I loved Panter-Downes wartime stories in Good Evening Mrs. Craven so I thought her peacetime stories deserved equal time.

No. 41 - Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge
"Deals with domesticity without being in the least bit cozy". Doctor's wife, rural Oxfordshire...what's not to love.

No. 44 - Tea with Mr. Rochester by Frances Towers
This collection of stories recieves so much critical praise in the Persephone catalogue that I couldn't pass it up.

No. 46 - Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd
This one has been on my maybe list for both of my previous Persephone buying binges. Such a great premise: Miss Ranskill is swept overboard on a cruise and lives on a desert island for three years before being returned to England in 1943. An England deep in World War II.

No. 48 - The Casino by Margaret Bonham
1940s short stories with a dark sense of humor.

No. 53 - Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary by Rachel Ferguson
Reputed to be the Queen Mum's favorite book (when she wasn't watching Benny Hill).

No. 63 - Princes in the Land by Joanna Cannan
Mother, ramshackle house outside of Oxford, three children who "take paths that are anathema to her"...Makes me glad I don't have kids to disappoint me.

No. 65 - Alas, Poor Lady by Rachel Ferguson
I just realized that I bought two by Rachel Ferguson and she was the one who wrote The Brontes Went to Woolworths which I did not like much at all. But, this one sounds absolutely fascinating. It takes a look at what happens to single ladies, "distressed gentlefolk", governersses and such, after they become too old to work. For those of us who read so many novels about pre-war women trying to make do, this one seems like a must read.

No. 91 - Miss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson
I just finished Miss Buncle's Book and loved it to pieces so I had to have the sequel.

And now for the giveaway...
For those of you in the U.S. who would like a free copy of A Fortnight in September, all you have to do is read my review of the book and give me the one reason (from the review) that makes you want to read this book. (Don't worry, there is no right answer.) And be sure and let me know if you are a Persephone virgin, I will enter your name twice in the random draw.


  1. What a beautiful haul of books you received. And to receive them individually, spread out over days? Heaven.

    I recently was introduced to Persephone Books last year, and I've only read The Victorian Chaise-Longue, which I absolutely loved. Creepy, to say the least. Little Boy Lost is up in the docket to read soon.

    Thanks for hosting a fabulous giveaway.

  2. This is so embarassing, but I think I own almost every one of the new Persephones you just received -- and I haven't read any of them except Miss Buncle, Married!!! (Which I loved, by the way!). There's a Persephone reading group on Goodreads which is about to start Hostages to Fortune, by the way -- it's open to anyone to join in. Hope I'll be able to squeeze it in.

    And I have no business asking since I have so many unread dove-grey books, but please throw my name in the hat for the drawing. I just love domestic fiction and stories about ordinary people, and I thought The Hopkins Manuscript was just wonderful. And those endpapers! So beautiful. Thanks for doing the giveaway!

  3. They look so pretty, stacked up like that! I want!!

    Happy Persephone reading!

  4. I just placed my first ever direct-from-Persephone order last week, so this is good to know that it won't be one big box. I can't put my name in the hat, because I'm "hoping for grace" (I put my order in right after the deadline for the Fortnight freebie, but I mentioned it anyway in case they weren't too strict about the deadline).

    I think I learn something new nearly every time I read your blog. I must confess I've been reading the Laski title "lounge" myself. I'm off to see how to pronounce that correctly now.

    Lovely book haul - and beautifully photographed! I'll be looking forward to your reviews as you get to them.

  5. Why do they ship like that? It costs more and the little white mailers I have received in the past have occasionally been damaged. I think a big box would be kind of nice.

    Lovely collection. Always love when that mild OCD kicks in and you go for the big orders all at once.

  6. Your comment that "even among Persephone fans, this one deserves more attention" says it all. Please put my name in the hat. :-)

  7. Some really good choices there, Thomas! I love Hostages to Fortune especially, but also Alas, Poor Lady; Consequences; Tea With Mr. Rochester; Miss Ranskill Comes Home; Minnie's Room... in fact the only one I didn't much like was Princes in the Land. Oh, and I gave up on Every Eye once, but I think that says more about me at that time than about the book.

    One small point, which might make you more hopeful about Lady Rose and Mrs. Memmary - it's actually by Ruby Ferguson, not Rachel Ferguson (confusing, no?) Ruby Ferguson is more famous for writing pony books. And Alas, Poor Lady is not remotely like Brontes Woolworths book. I liked both, but in very different ways.

  8. I am so envious of your new Persephones. I don't think I have read any of the ones you received but I do own one or two of them myself.

    As for A Fortnight in September, I want to read it for a few reasons, the first being that it is a Persephone! I also love books about holidays and the added element of the family dynamic will make it an interesting read.

  9. Thomas, can I say that I am "drooling" just looking at that fabulous stack of beautiful books??

    As for A Fortnight in September, I love the fact that this book seems to make one appreciate the simple pleasures...something that is too easy to forget with the pressures of everyday life.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    bibliophilebythesea AT gmail DOT com

  10. I have never read a Persephone, but I have drooled over others' purchases over the last year and a half of blogging. I've heard such fantastic things about The Victorian Chaise Lounge!

    I would love to be entered to win A Fortnight in September. What you describe re: travel is SO me. I hate crowds and enjoy traveling alone. I want to feel like the experience is solely my own.

    Thanks so much for the giveaway! Enjoy your books.

  11. Lovely stack! My recent Persephone purchase also included Alas Poor Lady, which someone (can't remember who) recommended on Twitter when I was trying to choose my purchases for the sale.

    And I already own Every Eye. I've not read enough Muriel Spark to know whether it actually has a Sparkian sensibility, but I did like it very much.

  12. No pressure but I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on Laski's book. It's one that I haven't plunked down money for yet due to some mixed reviews but I've adored Little Boy Lost and To Bed with Grand Music.

    You've set yourself up nicely for a winter full of great reading. I especially loved Consequences despite its bleakness. Just returned from London and a visit to the shop and bought The Carlyle's at Home which meant a visit to the house itself which I thoroughly enjoyed!

  13. I would love to win a copy of this book. I love stories about families and traveling families? I am most interested in them because when I travel with my family I tend to lose it right before leaving and it usually takes me a couple of good, relaxing days to become myself again.

    What I liked about your review the most is how you included the personal tidbits about your own travels. I worry about the little stuff all the time. Like, will my room be my a noisy elevator...or will some rude person check-in next door to me.

    bookishchatter AT gmail DOT com

  14. How nice to come home to maybe a week's worth of packages from Persephone Books! I've read a few--MPD is always good--she's a great short story writer, the Laski is perfect spooky reading for fall. I'd say you are in for many hours of really good reading! I've also read Fortnight in September (really liked it) so no need to drop my name in the hat.

  15. Well, I am a Persephone virgin and I live in the U.S, so I guess I qualify? Since finding and following your and Simon’s (Stuck-in-a-Book) blogs, I have been curious about both Virago and Persephone books, but thus far have only read a couple of Viragos (Enchanted April and Love in a Cold Climate).

    I remember reading your review the first time around actually. It was pretty vivid and I somehow picture Mr. Stevens wiping his face with a handkerchief while navigating around the train stations.

  16. Like Ruthiella, I'm a Persephone virgin but the encouragement of you and Simon has led to me scanning bookshelves at thrift stores during my lunch break for Virago titles.

    Fortnight in September sounds like something I should read before beginning my own family holiday (from the US); your review gives me hope that my hyper-organized self will prevail.

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  17. Oops - I posted my reason in the actual review itself. Apologies... here it is again in case you didn't see it for my entry...

    I think this is the reason why I loved my one Persephone Book (The Victorian Chaise-Longue) so much. I love a varied, multi-layered approach within a story and it's been one I've been craving so much lately and feel that I've been missing.

    By the way, thanks for hosting the giveaway from your other post. I'd love to be entered. coffeeandabookchick at gmail dot com.

  18. Natalie: I think I am going to have to read The Victorian Chaise-longue soon because I am curious to see what a creepy Persephone might be like.

    Karen: I try and space out my Persephone reading so I have lots I haven't read as well. But lately I have been on a binge of P reading.

    Cookie: You should see them added to my other Persephones on the shelf. Very pretty.

    Susan: Which ones did you order?

    Frances: I have gotten a bent corner or two, but thankfully nothing worse than that.

    Amy: It is so true.

    Simon: As usual your eagle eye lands on my sloppy blogging. Doesn't surprise me that the Queen mum liked books by someone who wrote "pony books".

    Lola: Which ones do you own?

    Diane: Must keep the drool away from the pretty books.

    Picky: As much as I love being in control of things, I don't like travelling alone too much. I get lonely.

    Teresa: Which other two did you buy?

    Darlene: I like bleak so I am looking forward to Consquences. Also hard to imagine given how frivolous her other books are.

    Ti: It is no National Lampoon family vacation. Everyone in Fortnight behaves impeccably.

    Danielle: Based on comments here I need to move the Laski up the list.

    Ruthiella: You WON! Send me your mailing address to onmyporch [at] hotmail [dot] com

    Stranger: I love hunting for Viragos.

  19. My other two Persephones were The Priory and There Were No Windows. I'll let you know how they are when I read them, three or four years from now :)

  20. The Victorian Chaise Longue is chilling and scary and quite quite brilliant. Consequences is really a totally different book by delafield, dark and sad so be prepared.

    Have you read the Homemaker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher? This is my most favourite Perspehone and I have lost count of the numbre of times I have read it

  21. Teresa: The Priory was my first Whipple. I quite liked it.

    Elaine: I find Delafield a bit frothy so I think I will appreciate her darker side. I absolutely love The Homemaker. I got that from Paperback Reader Claire for Persephone Secret Santa.


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