Monday, 15 June 2009

24 hours of Persephone

or thereabouts. What a lovely thought. Here is me, on the bus yesterday, with A house in the country, by Jocelyn Playfair, which has to be one of my favourite Persephone's so far. I must firstly apologise for the slightly abbreviated post yesterday, I had intended to write properly about Cherry cake...but I accidentally pressed "publish post" and then couldn't figure out how to unpublish it (I promise I will write more about it, probably when I've selected what to sample from it). I was a little short of time, as I decided that I didn't want to spend the day on my own and really wanted to see my lovely boyfriend, so I ended up following him to London, and taking the bus to see him play with his band at the police cadets passing out parade on The Mall and Horseguards parade. It was a very warm day, and some of the police cadets were quite literally passing out, but I was glad that I went, despite the hideous bus journey, and inordinate amounts of hanging around, because I was very proud to see him play at such a prestigious location, and because I got the chance to read the above book.

This is the story of Cressida, who owns a large country house in the country, and the people who live and pass through it. Partly the book is the storylines of the people in the house (a young man and his fiance (she turns out to be a bit of a b*tch!), her brother, her well to do Aunt), each of which are beautifully constructed. But it is also about Cressida's agonising over the war and its causes. And it is also a story of life on the home front. One of the most enduring motifs of the books is the repeated mention of the cabbages outside the kitchen window, a depiction of normality, yet only there as a result of the war. One of the interesting things about the book is that it was written in 1944, i.e. before the war ended - I think this gives a very real insight into how people felt about the war, rather than being influenced by hindsight; as the Persephone website says: "a novel like this one is an exact, unaffected portrayal of things as they were at the time". I loved it.

Anyway, a Persephone 24 hours. It's not hard to guess that I took advantage of the 3 for 2 for Persephone's birthday this week.
I bought a couple of books I've been desperate to own for a while, as well as a few more obscure ones that I haven't read, and one that I hadn't really spotted before. There are several more that I'd like to own, but as I've had them on loan from the public library and read them, I can't really justify it...
1. A London Child in the 1870s - this is one of my favourite books of all time; my Dad owns two other beautiful editions, but now I have my own copy.
2. The Carlyles at home - I would have bought this from Borders had their buy one get on half price extended to non-fiction - I love a good biography.
3. They Can't Ration These - one I hadn't previously spotted which appeals to my interest in WW2 home front.
4. Fidelity - another book I hadn't spotted but looks like it will be a good read
5. The Blank Wall - ditto.
6. Few Eggs and No Oranges - I've read this a long while ago, I think in the original, but it fits the same bill as number 3.
I shall take pictures for those with Persephone envy when they arrive...
Anyway, that is definitely has to be it for book buying, until the beginning of August when those new Bloomsbury books come out. I have more than enough to read, and it's holiday time anyway. Plus being the end of year, we are somewhat overwhelmed with books to check in and re-shelve, so I should give myself a break when I get home. Keep me to this!!

In other news...
* My cardigan arrived and it is every bit as good as the picture!
* I'm still waiting on my car, and really hoping it arrives in time for the booktalk about An equal stillness tomorrow night as I got this from the library at lunchtime and started it, and it is very good indeed.


  1. Nice haul! Pretty photograph too.

    The only one I have from your choices is your favourite, A London Child in the 1870s, in a non Persephone edition. I haven't read it yet (I am consoling myself that I have a number unread on my Persephone shelf and have no excuse to buy more, even if I could).

    I bought They Can't Ration These last month as a gift for someone but haven't read it myself.

    I am looking forward to reading your reviews of these.

  2. I purchased A House in the Country in May so I didn't read your synopsis, want it to be a complete surprise. I'm going to have a peek at They Can't Ration These, sounds like just my kind of book. Looking forward to the pictures of your new books!

  3. I have 28 Persephone books, of which I've only read 11, so I really shouldn't have indulged.
    Still, today is the beginning of financial waist-tightening; I'm going to see how economical I can be until the start of August (not sure why I've chosen that as a deadline!).

    The London Child is such a lovely book :) I am looking forward to reading it again. I shall try and get it together with my Dad's copies as that would make a nice picture.

  4. 28 Persephone's!!!! I am v. jealous. I am really trying hard not to order another three for two - A House in the Country sounds too good to miss ... I will probably cave in in the next day or two ;-)

  5. Well, actually it'll be 34 when the new ones arrive...
    I always end up caving in, so for once I decided not to bother trying to hold out. I definitely recommend A House...
    Can't wait til they arrive!


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