Thursday, 27 August 2009

Persephone Reading Week: Three non fiction titles

We've seen a lot of discussion of the various Persephone fiction titles, and I know a couple of you have been reading short stories and journals too, and Swati from Green Road books read Round About A Pound A Week, but I thought today I'd like to mention three of the non fiction titles that I own: They can't ration these, Kitchen Essays, and How to run your home without help. Rather than books to read straight through, these are wonderful for dipping into.

They can't ration these is a collection of recipes which were compiled by Vicomte de Maudit a Frenchman living in England in 1940 when war broke out and Britain was concerned about how they would manage for food. It makes use of ingredients such as nettles, dandelions and all sorts of wild creatures to make recipes such as Game Pie Gascony, Biblerry Ambrosia, Truffles in Cinders or Dandelion Fritters. Perhaps this is what we all need in such credit crunched times?! (although I have to say I didn't really fancy any of the recipes!)

Kitchen essays is a Persephone classic. The boo was first published in 1922 and is a compliation of essays written for The Times on various kitchen-related subjects. Essays include "For the too fat" and its companion "For the too thin", "Tray food", "Christmas cheer", "Of wedding breakfasts" and "On savouries" and there are many recipes in the book too. I liked the sound of stuffed salmon rolls "For a motor excursion luncheon". Hugely interesting and entertaining.

How to run your home without help is a book about housework - not something I really enjoy, but I found this book a fascinating historical document in the way that it provides advice for newly weds and people managing their households without help for the first time, sixty years ago. The most important thing is To have a plan:
"The real difficulty facing the single-handed housewife is not knowing the "how". In the past, domestic work was poorly paid, so the false idea has grown up that anyone can do it without any special knowledge. Of course the opposite is nearer the truth. Unless it is efficiently organised as well as carried out, it will take up too much time and effort"
Perfect tongue in cheek house warming present?!


  1. I want all three and think the first and last make great gifts (I gave the first as a perfect birthday gift during a recession gift recently).

    Such a wealth of different things offered by a variety of titles in the catalogue.

  2. I really want the one about gardening even though I have no interest in gardening - I managed to kill the cress I grew recently!!

  3. I haven't bought many of their non-fiction titles, though A Woman's Place is great to dip into. I never garden, but A Gardner's Nightcap has my favourite Persephone endpaper of all... is it worth it for that alone?!

  4. I like the sound of the second and third books. How wonderfully non-PC is an essay "For the too fat"! I think the last book would be good for newlyweds even long as it recommends equal sharing of domestic chores. I remember it being a complete shock having to run my own house after years of student digs and shared accommodation. Even today my mum thinks my house is terribly cluttered...I prefer to call it bohemian :)

  5. Such wonderful nostalgia! Thank goodness we don't beat carpets any more.

  6. I didn't know they did non-fiction. I love cooking, so some of those are very appealing.

  7. These are the titles I probably won't be purchasing for myself, not that I don't want to read them but that I covet the rest of the fiction so much more. But housewarming gifts? I say yes!


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