Last week I took a week of my annual leave to reorganise the house.
Things didn’t go entirely to plan – we need a carpenter to fix a falling curtain rail, a handyman to sort out a jammed window, and I’m waiting for a new car battery so that I can go back to work tomorrow. I was a little over-ambitious, we did get a heck of a lot done. Every room is pretty much set up as we wanted, there are more than a dozen bags waiting to go to the Oxfam shop, and I’m much, much happier with the way my books are arranged.
I ‘ve rearranged the alcove where my Persephone bookcase lives, the simple expedient of moving it from the side to the back wall has made it so much more visible and accessible.
I also found that I had a small gap between the top of the bookcase and the windowsill, and I wondered what I might put there,
The answer was always going to be books, because I still have more than I have book-shelf space to house, and of course it was always going to be Persephone related.
The size of the spaces, and the themes of other shelves, meant that the theme was a mixture of three things:
- Where Persephone Led Me
- Persephone Books in Other Editions
- Possibly Persephone
And here it is.
I’m sorry that the picture is a little gloomy, but a dark corner is a wonderfully safe home for precious books, and I don’t want to raise the blind because it could disturb our malfunctioning window.
But let’s talk about the books! I’ll go from top to bottom and from left to right.
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The Journal of Katherine Mansfield
The Man of the House rescued this one from a skip!!!
The Professor’s Children by Edith Henrietta Fowler
I was so taken with The Young Pretenders that I had to look to see what else it’s author wrote. Not a great deal it seems, but I did find this book.
Earth and High Heaven by Gwethalyn Graham
This one went straight on to my wishlist when Claire wrote about it, saying:
‘The entire time I was reading this, I kept thinking how Persephone-like it felt in tone, quality and themes. And, really, could there be higher praise than that?’
I waited a long time, and eventually an affordable copy appeared.
Broome Stages by Clemence Dane
When I spotted this book I recalled the author’s name from Nicola Beauman’s ‘A Woman’s Profession’, and when I saw the concept – Plantagenet history retold as the story of a theatrical family – I was smitten.
I thought of Susan Howatch ….
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Mr Hazard and Mr Hodge by Elinor Wylie
I spotted this in the Oxfam Shop, I didn’t know the title or the author, but it was a nice edition, I liked the title, and when I picked the book up I liked the prose and the fact that it dated from the 1920s. I know little more than that now, but a contemporary review from ‘The Bookman’ suggests that this was an excellent find.
“Mr. Hodge and Mr. Hazard” is tremendously moving, pathetic, absorbing. If you do not find in it the warmth and beauty of a profound understanding of the mortal heart, I shall be disappointed. If you prefer to find it clever, jewelled, satirical, I suppose you will not be disappointed; for it is Miss Wylie’s special gift that her stories glow with the almost unholy light of enchanting and finished prose.
A Background for Caroline by Helen Ashton
I was so taken with Helen Ashton’s Doctor Serocold that – once I’d noted which of her books my library had – I went looking to see if there were affordable copies of any others. I didn’t find many, but I did find this.
A Square Circle by Denis Mackail
Sadly my library has none of Denis Mackail’s books in stock, copies seem to be very scarce, and so of course I pounced when I saw this.
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The Visitors by Mary MacMinnies
This is another one of those books that I spotted, knew nothing about, picked up out of simple curiosity, and was sufficiently taken with to bring home. All that I can tell you is that it dates from the 1950s, and that the heroine is the wife of a member of a British mission posted to a provincial city in a country behind the Iron Curtain.
I thought of Ann Bridge ….
The Village by Marghanita Laski
I read a library copy, I aspire to a Persephone copy, but I have an elderly hardback rescued from a bargain bin for now.
The Fairies Return by Various Authors
This is a 1930s anthology, bringing together retellings of fairy stories from a wonderful array of authors. The ones that particularly caught my eye were E M Delafield, E OE Somerville and G B Stern ….
The Heart to Artemis: a Writer’s Memoirs by Bryher
I’ve read two of Bryher’s historical novels – The Player’s Boy and This January Tale – and because I loved them both, because her life sounded fascinating, I ordered this book from the library. I read enough to know that I wanted a copy to keep, and then I spotted a copy in the Oxfam shop.
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Just a little selection of books that will catch my eye as I go in or out of the room, and remind me how many good books I have to read and re-read.
Are there any that you know? Are there any that you’d particularly like to hear more about?
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