Tuesday, 8 December 2009
As you may have read yesterday, I was very excited to be going to see Nicola Beauman speak at the Woodstock Bookshop about Persephone books last night! I had a wonderful evening and had to blog about it today while it is still fresh (bake of the week will follow tomorrow...).
We were very lucky to have the opportunity to see Nicola because apparently she doesn't do very many events, which is a shame as she was a good speaker and extremely interesting. There were only about 20 people there, but you could not have shoehorned another booklover into the shop! Nicola spoke about how she established Persephone books, and how she was motivated to reprint titles which she had written about in A very great profession. She said that the difference between Persephone and Virago, although they could both be considered feminist, was that Persephone was more interested in domesticity. The title which had made their business viable was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day; an absolute bestseller, it meant that they could keep republishing books. It, like a handful of their other titles, has been republished as a "classic" with a coloured cover; apparently this is also to make them more appealing to the American market. The uniform grey covers were inspired by Nicola's love of uniformly designed french books, but apparently these don't sell so well overseas! We heard about plans for future books, including the Nemirovsky short stories due out next, and a wonderful book about madness planned for next Autumn. Nicola wouldn't say what her favourite title is, but it was obvious that Dorothy Whipple is probably her favourite author and we were all encouraged to read her if we hadn't already.
The event cost £4, which could be redeemended against a book from the shop, so it was not surprising that I treated myself to a Persephone book. I bought The world that was ours in the original grey edition (I kind of wanted the classic edition, but this does have a lovely bookmark); it's in my bag today and I hope I will write about it later this week if it interests people. I took along a friend who loves Virago Modern Classics, but who had yet to read a Persephone book. She came away with To bed with grand music, and we plan to discuss it soon as I already have my copy!
I'd not been to the Woodstock bookshop before; it was small with an impressive mix of books - pile them high, but not multiple copies. I could have come away with armfuls of books, but I merely made a note that I definitely want to read Toibin's Brooklyn before too long