Persephone Readathon: Some past reviews

This is just a quick post to let you know, if you don’t already, that Jessie of Dwell in Possibility is hosting a Persephone Readathon which runs from 1-11 February. I should have posted about this yesterday but haven’t been very organised recently!

You can find everything you need to know at Jessie’s blog, but the idea of the Readathon is to read and write about books published by Persephone (there’s a complete list on the Persephone website here). I am currently reading The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby, which also happens to be on my Classics Club list.

For now, though, here are the Persephones I have already read and reviewed on my blog:

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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

From my review: “I found Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day very easy to read, and with the entire story taking place in a day, it moved along at a fast pace. The perfect choice if you’re in the mood for something light hearted, fun and frivolous. Although it didn’t immediately become a favourite book, it was a lively, entertaining read full of amusing scenes and witty dialogue that made me smile.”

Alas, Poor Lady by Rachel Ferguson

From my review: “I loved this book but I know it won’t appeal to everyone. It’s slow and detailed, doesn’t have a lot of plot, and it did seem to take me a long time to read it. And yet without anything really ‘happening’ there’s still so much going on in this book that this post could easily have been twice as long as it is. So, for anyone with an interest in feminism and the differing roles of men and women in society, I can’t recommend Alas, Poor Lady highly enough.”

The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

From my review: “The pages of The Blank Wall are filled with tension and suspense. The plot is exciting and fast-paced and I could never guess what might happen next…I haven’t read many stories of the American Home Front during the war, so this was another interesting aspect of the book for me. A great story and one of my favourite Persephones so far.”

Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd

From my review: “I thought the whole idea of someone being cut off from the world and returning home only to find themselves suddenly thrown into the middle of a war was absolutely fascinating. This book has the perfect blend of humour and poignancy and gives us an opportunity to explore World War II from a unique perspective.”

Good Evening, Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes

From my review: “These stories are not particularly dramatic or sensational in any way. They are realistic stories that focus not so much on the war itself, but on the effects of the war on the women (and a few of the men) who were left behind at home. We read about women attending sewing parties, worrying about loved ones who are away fighting, preparing for their husbands to go to war, coping with being pregnant during the war and experiencing almost any other wartime situation you can think of.”

The Victorian Chaise-longue by Marghanita Laski

From my review: “I’ve seen this book described as a horror story – ‘a little jewel of horror’. For me, though, it wasn’t so much frightening as unsettling and creepy… At only 99 pages, this book can easily be read in an hour, but there’s so much packed into those 99 pages that the story will stay in your mind for a lot longer than that.”

Princes in the Land by Joanna Cannan

From my review: “This novel has very little plot but like most Persephone books it raises a lot of interesting issues including marriage, parent/child relationships and class differences. The book itself is well written and I liked the setting and the time period, but unfortunately this is the first Persephone I’ve read that I didn’t enjoy much at all.”

Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski

From my review: “There are so many great books that are let down by a weak ending, but this is certainly not one of them. The tension throughout the final few chapters was nearly unbearable, so much so that I was almost afraid to reach the end. And I imagine most readers, like I did, will have tears in their eyes when they reach the very last sentence. Nicholas Lezard of The Guardian, who is quoted on the back cover, says it best: If you like a novel that expertly puts you through the wringer, this is the one.

Family Roundabout by Richmal Crompton

From my review: “Family Roundabout is a very character-driven novel and fortunately almost every character in the story is well drawn and interesting. There were some that I didn’t like (Belle has to be one of the most horrible, vile people I’ve come across in fiction for quite a long time) but I enjoyed following all of their stories through to the end of the book. I loved the portrayal of the self-absorbed author, Arnold Palmer, and I thought the child characters were very well written too, which is maybe not surprising from a writer who wrote so many successful children’s books!”

And two more which are also available as Persephones, although my editions were from other publishers:

Miss Buncle’s Book by DE Stevenson

From my review: “Delightful, charming, warm, cosy – those are the type of words I would use to describe Miss Buncle’s Book. Written in the 1930s, D.E. Stevenson captures perfectly the atmosphere of life in a small English village at that time – a place where everybody knows everybody else, where freshly baked breakfast rolls are delivered to the villagers every morning, where people meet for tea parties or musical evenings and gossip with the neighbours over the garden fence.”

Flush by Virginia Woolf

From my review: “Flush is a wonderfully creative combination of fiction and non-fiction. For factual information, Woolf draws on Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s two poems about her dog and also the letters of Elizabeth and Robert, some of which she quotes from in the text. From a fictional point of view, the book is written from Flush’s perspective, imagining how a dog might feel and behave in a variety of different situations. The result is a book which is fascinating, unusual and a delight to read!”

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Have you read any of these? I know many of you have read a lot more Persephone books than I have!

12 thoughts on “Persephone Readathon: Some past reviews

  1. whatmeread says:

    I’ve read Miss Pettigrew, The Victorian Chaise-Longue, and Family Roundabout, and I have Flush waiting. But I have read much more from Persephone, as I am on my third subscription.

  2. cirtnecce says:

    This is such a great read along , focusing on some great authors, who are perhaps not as well known as should be. Let me see if I can find a book or two to participate. Thank You for the heads up!

    • Helen says:

      I hope you can participate in the readathon. If not, Persephones are great at any time of year. 🙂 I agree that some of those authors really deserve to be better known!

  3. Liz Dexter says:

    Such a great idea but not good timing for me. I might do this and collect some old reviews together – I have about 50 Persephones plus have read a few more in other editions. I loved THe Blank Wall when I didn’t think I was going to. Fellow blogger and friend Heaven-Ali found that in a charity shop but already had it so passed it to me!

    • Helen says:

      It wasn’t great timing for me either, but I should manage to finish one book in time, I think. I’m glad you loved The Blank Wall too. I found it quite different from all of the other Persephones I’ve read!

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