Friday 20 May 2011

Possibly Persephone?

Another quick post, as I seem to be constantly too sleepy to write proper reviews - the little space on the bookshelves above my bed for books waiting to be reviewed is getting pretty chock-a-block.

I'm off to an event at Persephone Books next Wednesday, called Possibly Persephone?, where people can suggest books which they think would be good in the series. I've chosen the book I'm going to recommend, but I'll keep it secret here until after the event. The books which I think would fit most perfectly into Persephone's canon are Helen Thomas' (auto)biographies As It Was and World Without End - it's like they were written to be Persephone Books, but they've already been given the Persephone shake of the head, for whatever reason. So, I'll try my luck with another one! I don't know if any of the previous Possibly Persephone? events have resulted in published titles, but it should be fun nonetheless.

So, of course, I'm turning this over to you - which neglected book do you think would make the next great Persephone title? Thinking caps on...


  1. Well I am never sure on Persephones writers era eligibility or the length of the books they allow (I know The Shuttle was edited or squished a bit, with love of course and indeed thank goodness or I'd never have found the gem) but in for a penny and in for a pound and I will recommend two...

    Our Village by Miss Mitford

    The Lamplighter by Miss Cummins

    I have hardbacks of these both and would love to see them published in the present.

  2. Oh, I remember the Lamplighter. There was a very condensed version of it with pictures in my childhood encyclopedia. I've never read the whole thing. Rather Mill of the Flossish, I seem to remember. I'd love to know if they've reprinted anything suggested at one of those PP evenings but Nicola could just keep publishing Dorothy Whipple until the supply runs out & I'd be happy!

  3. Definitely 'Merry Hall' by Beverley Nichols (a man, by the way). After the war, exhausted and bombed out of his London home, he buys a house in Surrey. Ostensibly a book on restoring the garden, you don't have to be a gardener to enjoy it - its all about meeting the neighbours, hating the previous owners taste, and finding money to indulge his passion. Beautifully and very funnily written.

  4. Oh I love Helen Thomas, what a shame it's been rejected. I don't have any bright ideas but look forward to seeing what people come up with!

  5. I found out this year that Marghanita Laski had a sister-in-law – Audrey Laski – who wrote what sound like some fantastic novels in the 1960s and 70s, but which are out of print and in some cases completely unavailable. I’ve ordered one and if it’s any good, I thought I’d contact Persephone – just in case...

  6. Well, I recently recommended The Blue Castle (LMM's one novel for adults) to Nicola, but it was not to be.

    So I'll just recommend it to everyone here. Funny, charming and optimistic (the life LMM couldn't lead, as a Minister's Wife).

    In the public domain at

  7. PLEASE can you make a case for Illyrian Spring for me? If I wasn't on the other side of the Atlantic I'd be there in person to plead my cause!

  8. I wonder if they're accepting email suggestions from dove-grey readers in the U.S.? I was going to suggest Parson Austen's Daughter by Helen Ashton (who wrote Bricks and Mortar, Persephone #49). It's a fictionalized life of Jane Austen based on her letters. I don't normally go in for Austen fanfiction but Helen Ashton was such a great writer, and this was so highly recommended by a member of my Jane Austen Society group that I bought a copy. I've just read a little so far but it's really good. I'm sure there are a lot of Janeites who would love to read this!

    I'm really enjoying all the other suggestions as well, and now I'll have to look for even more OOP books.

  9. I'm going to be highly unoriginal and suggest Tales from Greenery Street and Ian and Felicity by Denis Mackail. It is hardly fair to give us the delightful Greenery Street alone when its sequels are so difficult to track down!

  10. Hello from a long time reader- I think this is my first comment!

    I went to a "Possibly Persephone" event in 2005ish- they didn't choose my book (The Governess by Peggy Chambers) or any of the far! But I did get some amazing recommendations from the other attendees (e.g. "Enbury Heath"- Stella Gibbons, "Jam Tomorrow"- Monica Redlich). Please let us know what titles are suggested (if you can)! I'm off to search for Helen Thomas now- Thank you!


  11. Simon - Our Village is one of those titles I've seen dozens of times in secondhand bookshops, and pondered on, but never bought or read... and The Lamplighter I've never heard of at all!

    Lyn - hahaha, yes, a surfeit of Whipple... I like Whipple a lot, but there can't be many more to come!

    Michelle Ann - I have Merry Hall, along with many other Nichols books, and have yet to read any of them...

    Verity - I don't know why Helen Thomas was turned down - such wonderful books. I think it'll be a really fun evening, although I doubt anything will come of it for Persephone.

    Nick - ooo, that's very interesting, I hadn't heard of that. Do let me know what it's like!

    Susan D - ahh, I think Claire is intending to suggest The Blue Castle, so I'll hear Nicola's response first hand!

    Rachel - afraid I'm only allowed one book! I think Nicola might be intending an ongoing series of events, so perhaps it'll still be going when you're back in England... and I *will* get my review of Illyrian Spring up soon, promise.

    Karen K - Diana, from the doves list, very sweetly gave me a copy of the Ashton book - I didn't realise exactly what it was. I wonder where I put it... But Persephone are always happy to have suggestions emailed, I believe, so do give it a try!

    Thomas - I don't think you need to ask for that, they're sure to all appear eventually!

    Claire - oh, Claire, yes! I don't even care if they're good or not, I just want to be able to read them...

  12. Kate - lovely to hear from you, and thank you for commenting for the first time! Thanks also for mentioning books I'd never heard of - tell me more about The Governess!

  13. Ask Nicola for me to republish Nancy Mitford's collection of short stories: The Water Beetle. Filled with Mitford's witty writing on this and that and illustrations by Osbert Lancaster, it really is a pitty it hasn't been published for 50 years. I wish I could go to the event to give the suggestion myself, but I'd be thrilled if you would! :)

    PS: In reference to the Beverley Nichols...Timber Press republishes most of his work out of Portland Oregon. They do a lovely job of it.

  14. I have a lot of unrealistic ideas, but how about Mollie Panter-Downes' London War Notes? It really should be in print and it would fit the Persephone list beautifully.

  15. Oh, by all means, Claire, suggest The Blue Castle again. My last suggestion, in 2005, was Miss Buncle's Book, which is now a big success for them. But at the time, Nicola told me that despite numerous such suggestions, she didn't care for DES's writing.

  16. I've come to this thread from googling The Governess which I first read at school aged 12 and loved so much that when I left the school knowing that I'd been unable to find my own copy the librarian gave me the school copy as a leaving present. I have also often thought about suggesting it to Persephone and am sad to hear they turned it down as over 20 years after reading the book I still think about the characters and the impact the book had on me.


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