Friday, 4 November 2011

New Persephones! . . .

It's always a special day when I open my mailbox to retrieve that white envelope from the U.K. with the newest Biannually magazine from Persephone Books. I've been collecting and reading their beautiful books for ten years now (I so admire their committment to keeping every title in print), and I'm lusting after their latest.  In particular, I really want to read No Surrender by Constance Maud, a suffragette novel first published in 1911 that covers multiple aspects of the movement and includes a character based on Lady Constance Lytton.  Persephone has dug up a review of the book by Emily Davison, the woman who fatally threw herself under a horse to bring attention to suffrage, in which she writes, ". . . but for vivid realism, the pictures of prison life, of the Hunger Strike and Forcible Feeding, are difficult to beat. It is a book which breathes the very spirit of our Women’s Movement."

And isn't the fabric for the endpapers and accompanying bookmark wonderful?  It's a pattern designed in 1913 by the Omega Workshops run by Roger Fry and in the suffragette colours. Hmmm - it would make a great scarf wouldn't it?
Their second book for the season is Greenbanks by their favourite author Dorothy Whipple.  I'm a bit behind in my Whipplewending; I've read and loved Somewhere From a Distance but the others are still waiting patiently on my shelf. However, Greenbanks is the story of an ordinary English family both before and after the First World War, and that immediately piques my interest.

Finally, Persephone continues to bring back into print some wonderful cookbooks. Dinner for Beginners by Rachel and Margaret Ryan was first published in 1934 and contains 109 recipes and 28 menus to cook dinners for four people. 

The bookmark I received with the magazine (this gorgeous fabric designed by Duncan Grant) had a snippet on the back in which the authors take you minute by minute through the cooking process telling you exactly when to complete each step.  Now, I've never actually attempted any recipes from my Persephone cookbooks, but oh, how I love to read them!  They are endlessly entertaining, and so evocative of the historical period in which they were written.  Kitchen Essays by Agnes Jekyll remains one of my favourite Persephones.

I'll be going to London next month and will definitely be stopping by their lovely store to pick these up along with Midsummer Night in the Workhouse, a collection of short stories by Diana Athill, and The Sack of Bath by Adam Ferguson.  That should bring my collection up to date and provide some wonderful holiday reading.

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