After reading all the Persephone Readathon posts this weekend, it occurred to me that I've never made a list of my Top Ten Persephones -- seems like the perfect time for this list! I've read more than 80 of the 125 Persephones titles so far and I think I have 18 owned-and-unread on my shelves. I've reviewed most of them and if you click on the titles it will link you to my reviews. I don't own all of them but I wish I did!
In alphabetical order by author, since I really love them all too much for an actual ranking:
|Endpaper from the Persephone edition of The Casino|
The Casino by Margaret Bonham. One of the excellent short story collections. I don't read short stories very often but I remember these were all excellent and I was prompted to track down more of her work via ILL.
Family Roundabout by Richmal Crompton. Charming story about an extended family between the wars, with two competing matriarchs. I know Crompton is famous for the William books but I'd love to read more of her adult fiction. I don't know of any others that are currently in print.
The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. Wonderful story of a family in the 1920s. After a terrible accident, the parents are forced to change roles. It's a really interesting look at family dynamics and gender roles. Also one of the few Persephones by American authors.
|Endpapers from the Persephone edition of The Village|
A London Child of the 1870s by Molly Hughes. Funny and charming nonfiction memoir of a childhood in suburban London by a woman with four older brothers, the first of three volumes (the others aren't published by Persephone but I've since bought the combined edition which is out of print, though used copies are readily available.
The Village by Marghanita Laski. My favorite of the Laski titles available from Persephone, set just after the end of WWII. It's about two families and how the social class structure was changing.
|Endpapers of the Persephone edition of Dimanche and Other Stories|
Dimanche and Other Stories by Irene Nemirovsky. My first introduction to Nemirovsky, who was rediscovered about ten years ago with the publication of Suite Francaise (also wonderful). Brilliant short stories by a French writer who was tragically arrested and transported to Auschwitz, where she died.
|Endpapers from the Persephone edition of Doreen|
Doreen by Barbara Noble. Another wonderful domestic story set during WWII. Doreen is a nine-year old girl and her mother, a widowed charwoman, struggles with the decision to evacuate her to a small village to live with an upper-class couple who grow to love Doreen as their own child. The book expertly shows how all the adults love her and how Doreen becomes torn between them.
Miss Buncle's Book by D. E. Stevenson. A charming story about a spinster who writes a satirical novel about her village neighbors, and how her life changes with the her surprising literary success.
Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson. My very first Persephone read and one of their most popular titles, it's a Cinderella story about a down-and-out nanny who becomes the social secretary to a flighty nightclub singer due to a mix-up at an employment agency.
Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple. I could have picked almost any one of the Whipple titles in the Persephone catalog for this list, or more than one. But Someone at a Distance is a great domestic story about a seemly perfect upper-middle class British family and how the family quickly falls to pieces. Not a lot of action, but really well-drawn, realistic characters.
Bloggers, which are your favorite Persephones?
This is a wonderful post, Karen! I'm impressed by the number of Persephone titles you've read! I look forward to rereading many of your past reviews!ReplyDelete
I started reading them back in 2010 and was luckily able to find quite a few of them in local libraries and via ILL, I think I read 20 the first year! I've slowed down a bit but I still have a stack unread on the TBR shelves -- much easier to get now that I'm in the EU.Delete
Love seeing your list and how great that you've had a chance to read so many Persephones! I have read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Someone at a Distance both have been favorites of mine as well. Currently reading Good Evening, Mrs. Craven and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.ReplyDelete
I really liked Mollie Panter-Downes' short stories -- in fact, I've had good luck with all the Persephone short story collections so far. If you sign up for their mailing list, you'll get a biannual magazine mailed to you with a free bookmark and there's always at least one short story included, it's a lovely surprise.Delete
I've read six of your favourites and would like to add Miss Ranskill Comes Home, Few Eggs and No Oranges, The Carlyles at Home, A Very Great Profession and one I've recently finished, Harriet. And then there's Mollie Panter-Downes short stories...My forty-two Persephone titles are in a bookcase near the living room window. My husband has been instructed to start tossing them outside should there ever be a fire - that's how much I love them.ReplyDelete
About half of my Persephones are in storage. If anything happens to them I'll be devastated!Delete
I love the original covers you included. They are so pretty!ReplyDelete
I have read the last three listed. I would probably pick The Priory over Someone At a Distance, but likely only because that was the first Whipple title I read. I don’t think I have actually read more than 10 Persephone titles, but if I had, I think The Fortnight in September by R.C. Sherriff would be at the very top. It is such a gentle, slightly melancholic story.
The Priory was my first Persephone also, and I was torn between the two for this list. I know many people loved A Fortnight in September but I was a little underwhelmed. Maybe my expectations were unrealistically high, or maybe it just wasn't the right time.Delete
What a wonderfully informative post. I know nothing of Persephone Books, but Katrina at "Pining for the West" (on my blogroll) just commented on one she really liked, and now I see all of these. As is not unusual for me, I've been missing something special. Thanks so much for this post! And keep enjoying your reading moments!ReplyDelete
Thanks! I honestly discovered Persephone through blogging -- I'd picked up a couple in bookstores but they had languished on my shelves until I realized that everyone was blogging about these books I'd ignored. Finally read Miss Pettigrew and I was hooked.Delete
I've also enjoyed all of the Persephones you mention and Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd, also Into the Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg although it's not exactly a comfort read.ReplyDelete
I also loved Miss Ranskill. I'd love to reread it now but it's packed away -- I'll just have to console myself with the 13 other unread Persephones I brought with me to Germany!Delete
I love lists! You've reminded me I need to read Doreen. Every time someone mentions it I think how interesting it sounds and yet it's been on my shelf unread far too long.ReplyDelete
Doreen really spoke to me, probably because I had children about the same age when I was reading it. I don't know if I could make the choice to be separated from my own child.Delete
I'm going to have to get The Casino off the shelf before too long!ReplyDelete
I've really been impressed with all the Persephone short story collections. I really want to get the newest one by Malachi Whitaker but I think I'm going to wait until April and order it with the new Whipple!Delete