Friday, December 10, 2010

Greenery Street by Denis Mackail - plus a giveaway!

An original illustration,
from the Persephone website
Another Persephone book!  I am so behind in my blog postings that I think I could do a Persephone every day for a week -- and I just might, in honor of the upcoming Persephone Secret Santa exchange.  (I've mailed off my gift and can't wait to see how the recipient likes it -- and I got another clue from my Santa.)

Greenery Street is the story of Ian and Felicity Foster as they begin their life together as young marrieds in London, 1925.  Greenery Street (an actual street in Chelsea) is the perfect place, full of young couples -- once the families start growing, there just isn't enough room with babies and prams and nurses, so the young families tend to move on.  The book starts out with a their courtship and the beginnings of their married life, as they look for a house, struggle with budgets, and deal with quirky neighbors and difficult servants (something I can't even imagine).  

This book is pretty lighthearted, definitely middlebrow fiction.  What I particularly liked is the omniscient narrator who throws his two cents in every so often -- I know I read a review in which it was compared to the narration in Arrested Development, one of my favorite TV shows (and if that reviewer reads this, please let me know so I can give you credit).  

According to the Persephone website, "Greenery Street can be read on two levels - it is a touching description of a young couple's first year together in London, but it is also a homage - something rare in fiction - to happy married life."  It starts out a charming, amusing book about a young couple, rather lightweight, with a little satire thrown in.  However, by the end of the book, it's much more than that. In particular, the ending throws the reader a bit of a curveball, when Felicity and Ian are suddenly thrown in the midst of a fairly serious situation.  I don't want to give anything away, but the ending of the book does leaves the reader with something to think about, a moral dilemma that I wasn't expecting at all.

Due to a twist of fate, I have the good fortune to be in possession of TWO copies of Greenery Street!  I was going to save one and give it away if there's another Persephone Reading Week (and I hope there will be!); however, I'm feeling the holiday spirit, so I'm going to give away my pristine, unread copy to a lucky reader.  All you have to do is leave a comment and answer one of these questions:

1.  Which is your favorite Persephone, and why?
2.  Which Persephone should I read next, and why? (click on my Persephone challenge page to see what I've finished)
3.  Any recommendations for other books by Persephone authors you've read, or any other book you think would go well in their catalog? (i.e., books they should publish someday).

Please be sure and leave some method of contact, either your email address or a link to your blog where I can contact you.  Also, I'm going to have to limit the giveaway to the U. S.  Copies of the dove-grey Persephones are tough to come by on this side of the pond, so I want to convert some readers here.  I'll keep the giveaway open until midnight December 14 (Central Standard Time).  I'll select my favorite comment for the winner, and post the name on December 15, the day when the Persephone Secret Santa participants will be blogging about their gifts.  


  1. I'm not sure this sounds like my sort of does remind me of an old B&W movie I saw once, but now I can't remember what it was. Hm.

  2. Amanda -- this doesn't strike me as your sort of book. I'd definitely compare it to Miss Pettigrew and some of the lighter Persephones.

  3. This sounds like such a sweet book. I love the Arrested Development comparison! I'd like to be entered for the giveaway, but I don't know if I've read any Persephone books yet. As you say, they're harder to get here -- it's happened frequently that I've looked for a Persephone title at the library and found something else by the same author and read that instead. Soooo... I fail.

  4. Oh, this sounds absolutely charming!

    I'm not entering the giveaway, but I thought I'd answer your question anyway :P My favourite Persephone to date is Alas, Poor Lady by Rachel Ferguson. I loved it because it captured the powerlessness of women in the Victorian age and the consequences of the "marriage market" social system perfectly. Also, it was wonderfully written and very moving. And naturally I think you should read *that* next ;)

  5. Jenny -- recommendations for related books are also great! I'll have to update the questions to include Persephone wannabees. I've heard that the Persephone shop also sells a table of "books they wish they had published." I'll have to see if I can find out what they are, to read when I've finished their entire catalog. :-)

    Nymeth -- I'll have to look for that one, and move it up on my Persephone list. There are so many I want to read. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. Hmm, I love Miss Pettigrew. I just watched the pilot episode of Arrested Development because I love narrators that insert themselves into the fiction. So I might like this one.

    My favorite Persephone is Wish Her Safe At Home because I don't buy a lot of books or solicit review copies, and my library doesn't have them. I bought Wish Her Safe At Home because Aarti at Booklust was so enthusiastic about it, and it's the only one by this publisher that I own.

  7. Hi Karen, I've only recently discovered your blog but I'm really enjoying it! I'm also a librarian and from the list of books you've read this year, and some of your reviews of them, it looks like we have similar tastes in books.

    I'm going to answer your questions even though I'm not, strictly speaking, eligible to win (I'm in Canada, not the US, and I own a dozen Persephones so you would not be converting any new readers by giving me the book).

    1. My favorite Persephone is Saplings by Noel Streatfeild, because of how well she represented the childrens' perspective in the story. The endpapers & bookmark of the book are also one of my favorites.

    2. I recommend reading anything by Dorothy Whipple. I've read The Priory and Someone at a Distance and both were very engrossing. They're very character-driven and yet there's enough of a plot to make you want to know what's going to happen next.

    3. I think this is still in print, so not a real contender for Persephone Book, but Earth and High Heaven by Gwethalyn Graham would fit very well in their catalogue. It's a Canadian novel, published at the end of WWII, which was immensely popular when first published and no longer well known. It's essentially a love story between a young woman from a well-respected Montreal family and a young man who is a Jew from a small northern Ontario mining town. It's got war, anti-Semitism, love across social divides, and it provides a vivid, accurate portrait of life in war-time Montreal.

  8. I've only read three books but I think my favorite was THE HOME-MAKER. LITTLE BOY LOST was also very satisfying, even more so after it's sat a little bit! I'd love to in this, as I've never seen the hardcover Persephones.

  9. No need to enter me ...Lord knows I have too many books as it is right now. But I love the allusion to Arrested Development ... one of my favorite TV shows of all times. And you've gotta love your opiniatdd omniscient narrator!

  10. HA! I just today realized I can comment here anonymously! I'll reveal myself tomorrow by linking to your blog. SORRY I screwed up the last clue - in fact, if you already figured it out, I reveal myself today at my blog...

    Happy Persephone Holidays!
    - Your Secret Santa

  11. *sulks* I am not entering as I bought myself a copy of this only a couple of weeks ago! Ha, that'll teach me. Seriously though, thank you for your generosity, Karen, and sharing the Persephone love.

    To date: hm, tough one ... this year it was Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon and Lady Rose & Mrs Memmary is an especial favourite.

    LOVING your anonymous comment above! Hee.

  12. Jeanne -- I loved, loved, LOVED Arrested Development. And did you realize Ron Howard is the uncredited narrator? My favorite character was Tobias, he was so ridiculous. And the mother is just unbelievable!

    I'll have to read Aarti's review of Wish Her Safe at Home, I had not heard of it. Intriguing!

    Kristen -- thanks for the compliments! And curses on international mail, we can't ship Book Rate to Canada -- which is so irritating because so much of Canada is closer than, say, Alaska or Hawaii. Grrr.

    But I love your suggestions -- I do have Saplings and Someone at a Distance but haven't read them yet. And I shall have to look for Earth and High Heaven, sounds exactly like my kind of book.

    Rebecca -- Little Boy Lost is another on my to-read shelf. I want to read them ALL but I'm trying to be patient and ration them out, as I know some will be difficult to get.

    Jenners -- There is no such thing as too many books. Are you sure you don't want me to enter you in the drawing?

    Anonymous Santa -- I think I know who you are! I've loved all the clues, can't wait until the big reveal tomorrow. This has been such a great swap!

    Paperback Reader -- don't you HATE that? I think you'll like it though. I did read Still Missing and I put Lady Rose on my Christmas List. Hope my DH bought me some Persephones, I gave him SPECIAL instructions on ordering from Book Depository. I hope he got the hint.

  13. My favorite Persphone--so far--is Richmal Crompton's Family Roundabout.

    I'm intrigued by the Arrested Development comparison.

  14. Ooh, Greenery Street is one of my favoruite Persephones! I don't know which is my favourite Persephone - I've read all but the latest two - Still Missing was so compelling, I loved Mollie Panter Downes' short stories, and Miss Buncle's Book was just brilliant! Votes also for Mariana and A fortnight in September, plus the Whipples, especially High Wages...


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