Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Persephone Under the Tree

I always feel like a bit of a braggart when I do a post that recaps books I got for Christmas. Then, of course, I stop and realize that the majority of people probably wouldn’t consider a book to be a gift worth bragging about. Hopefully that’s not the case for anyone reading this blog, who may be more likely to share in my excitement over the collection of Persephone books that I received this year.

First there's The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield-Fisher, one of the more buzzed-about Persephones in recent months. It tells the story of a stay-at-home father in the 1920's, when that was anything but common. Perhaps even more than the intriguing premise and good buzz, it was the cover illustration of the Persephone Classics Edition that drew me to this book. It features a Norman Rockwell painting called Crackers in Bed that is so warm and cozy looking that it practically makes the book jump off the shelf, begging to be read during these dreary winter months. I'll definitely be tacking this one very soon.

The Village by Marghanita Laski and High Wages by Dorothy Whipple were both titles that I added to my wish list after browsing through the most recent Persephone Biannual. While the latter is still waiting on my shelf, I read The Village over the holiday break. It’s the story of a romance between an upper class girl and a working class boy, told through the eyes of the small British village they live in during the inter-War years. Laski introduces us to a huge group of characters and she skillfully makes each one multi-dimensional. The result is that you spend time liking and disliking aspects of nearly every character in turn. The love story feels almost secondary to this realistic character study. I wasn’t thrilled with the way the ending was wrapped up, which might keep this one from being one of my top Persephone recommendations, but it was still a very engaging novel.

The Persephone Book of Short Stories is a book that I've been wanting to get my hands on for quite a while. The writers represented in the collection include Dorothy Whipple, Dorothy Parker, Edith Wharton, Helen Hull, Susan Glaspell, among many others, which pretty much makes it a no-brainer.

And last, but not least, is The Country Life Cookery Book by Ambrose Heath. Traditionally I’ve steered away from Persophone’s nonfiction books on cooking or homekeeping, but this one spoke to me because of the way it features recipes broken down according to season, very much on-trend even though it was written in the 30's, back when eating that way was the norm and not a trend. Yes, it’s a very different kind of cookbook than the modern-day ones that clutter my kitchen, and yes, there are recipes for some dishes that I would never dream of preparing today, but there are also a fair amount that I can actually see myself trying. And as a bonus, each chapter is illustrated with drawings by Eric Ravilious, an artist whose work I’m always interested in seeing.

That was my holiday haul. Did you get any books for Christmas, Persephone or otherwise?


  1. Nice haul!

    I was gifted a first edition of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle (love that cover!)

  2. I have bought ALL the Persephone books ... madness I know but, the poetry ones are in one room, the cookery ones in another & I have given some away ... they look so demure AND you get a bookmark with each ... what can be wrong with that?

    1. Wow, all the Persephones! Sounds like an amazing collection.



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