You may have noticed that I like talking about books – almost as much as I like buying books. I have recently been thinking about my favourite kinds of books, with posts about beautiful classics and lovely Virago books. I have just been waiting to celebrate what are quite probably my favourite books of all. I am trying to remember when I first discovered Persephone; certainly I am sure it was through my friend Liz, it was several years ago now probably around 2007. I instantly recognised the beautiful, collective, and dare I say addictive quality of these wonderful editions. Almost certainly it was the gorgeous endpapers with matching bookmark which sold me. Once when in charity shop – my sister came across a fairly pristine Persephone book, so well trained is she – she declared it to still have its bookmark! – to the bewilderment I am sure of the rest of the shop.
The contents of these dove grey books are wonderfully diverse, with a range of powerful poignant, funny and entertaining stories from the last century and before, memoirs and books of letters, cookery and gardening books, and lots of short stories. Persephone actually re-kindled my love of the short story – it was a genre I previously had thought I hadn’t much liked (but I think that was largely modern short stories). I can certainly recommend the Mollie Panter Downes stories, as well Dorothy Whipple’s stories, and am really looking forward to Dimanche and other stories which I have TBR. I will surely soon be buying the Persephone book of short stories their most recent publication and the 100th title to be published by them – it actually looks really rather drool worthy.
Many people love the range of Persephone Classics with their attractive covers – but personally for me – only grey will do. I have amassed a rather nice little collection – and the books pictured don’t include the six I have TBR. Obsessed? Me – how very dare you? Yes I have kept all the biannuallys too – so maybe I am a little.
Persephone publishes books by authors that I had previously not heard of – who had undeservedly gone out of print. It is only because of Persephone that I discovered Dorothy Whipple – I have loved her books – so sad I have read all the Whipple’s that Persephone publishes – but there is always re-reading. I have already re-read one of my Persephone books, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a day – which I think was the first Persephone book I bought – it is such a perfect comfort read. I loved it all over again.
A word about the biannually – I love it – I read mine slowly rather than gobbling it all in one go. Maybe slightly too much information but I now read them in the bath when I have a book on my kindle on the go. I can’t trust myself with a kindle in the bath. When the biannually arrives – I feel part of a special little club – ok maybe not very little – but certainly a very enthuisiastic club. I generally read about the new books coming out first –then turn to the reviews. Of course in order to get the biannually one needs to buy the books and be on a mailing list – that’s hardly a hardship.
Well I can’t end a post about Persephone without a few recommendations – well that is hard – but I’ll do a quick mention to some that I have especially loved, Margahnita Laski’s Little Boy Lost – is sublime, so deeply poignant I had to put it down and walk away before going back to it. More recently I have loved Greenbanks, Harriet and Manja they were all hugely memorable reads during 2012 as was New House – just a perfect book. Do you like Persephone books? – how many do you have? I obviously don’t have them all so was wondering are there any I don’t have which I must buy. (There are three which I don’t have which I have in other editions). Careful now – they don’t exactly over pay me.
Two or three times I have made what felt like Pilgrimages to the Persephone shops – oh the joy! the excitememt I felt on the way to the Lambs Conduit Street shop as we walked dowen that very pretty little street I find impossible to describe. I am glad Persephone exist – and I know many others are too. Strangely enough then that I don’t have a Persephone on my pile for February – I seem to really spread out my reading of Persephone books like little treats scattered acoss the year. I wonder? does everyone do that?