Friday, 23 October 2009

Persephone Biannually


I am relieved that the Royal Mail strikes in the UK did not prevent me from receiving the Persephone 2009 Autumn/Winter Biannually as it allowed me to spend a pleasant hour yesterday perusing it whilst drinking a Chai latte in Starbucks (no cake, alas). I read the Biannually from cover to cover, flicked through the up-to-date catalogue (most of which I know by heart) and admired my pretty new bookmark; the bookmark matches the lapis printed cotton circa 1808-15 (from the Victorian & Albert museum) endpaper of one of the new titles, A New System of Domestic Cookery by Mrs Rundell.

The Biannually contains tempting information about the three new titles: the others being High Wages by Dorothy Whipple and To Bed With Grand Music by Marghanita Laski; I am most attracted to the latter (although I will undoubtedly also purchase the new Whipple novel). The Laski novel is primarily "about sex in wartime"; Deborah, the wife of a man posted overseas, takes lover after lover and provides a different view of life on the home-front. Apparently very funny as well as shocking, this is probably a realist work and one that intrigues me. The first scene of To Bed With Grand Music is described as a compelling one and is likened to "the five conception scenes at the beginning of Manja". Manja by Anna Gmeyer (mother of author Eva Ibbotson) was a Persephone title that had not stood out to me before but now the story of five children -all conceived on the same night in 1920- growing up in Weimar Republic Germany until the Nazis came to power, is at the top of my Persephone wishlist.

Within the pages of the Biannually is a short story "A Lovely Time" by Dorothy Whipple. In the vein of the two Whipple novels I have so far read -Someone at a Distance and They Were Sisters- the story possesses a rawness of emotion that is inexplicable in its effectiveness (what makes Whipple so readable and unbearably poignant?) A simple night out for innocent Alice Barnes, her first night out in London since moving there for work from a small town four months previously, evokes a sad loneliness; moreover there is a social embarrassment that we have no doubt all experienced at some point in our lives, where we don't fit in despite our best efforts. Dorothy Whipple doesn't do cheerful; she writes of the cruelty of life and we are left with pity for Alice.

The most exciting part of reading the latest Biannually, however, was skipping to the Bloggers Review section and finding myself quoted! It was a definite narcissistic highlight of the reading experience for me. If you click on the photograph below to enlarge it you can not only read the excerpt but you will notice that I am in very good company and surrounded by some of my favourite fellow bloggers; on the next page (not photographed) Rachel of Book Snob, Lynne of dovegreyreader, Claire of kiss a cloud and Naomi of Bloomsbury Bell are all quoted from and I was happy to see so many familiar bloggers! A good few of these quotes were taken from Persephone Reading Week posts and I am so pleased that we were able to provide them with so much material to choose from, albeit too much to use all. A big thank you to Persephone for recognising our efforts.



41 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

It is so good to see that they are dedicating a page to bloggers. Hopefully more publishers will start to embrace bloggers in the future.

Congratulations on getting your name in print!

verity said...

Congratulations!

JoAnn said...

How exciting!! I'll be watching my mailbox...

Jodie said...

Congratulations!And 'To Bed...' sounds really different from anything else I've read about war experiences.

Darlene said...

Hooray! I was wondering when the next edition would be arriving. I just skimmed your post so I could save some of the content as a surprise but so glad to see the reviews by some friends too!

Paperback Reader said...

Jackie, Persephone have been very embracing of bloggers as they undoubtedly realise the cult of word-of-mouth. They also have their on blog in pictures, The Persephone Post.

Thanks, Verity.

JoAnn, it's so exciting waiting for the Persephone Biannually!

Jodie, thanks. Doesn't it sound unique? I am coveting it desperately.

Darlene, I don't want to ruin the surprise for you...

leaningtowardthesun said...

Exciting news Claire! Can't wait until it arrives here in the US

Paperback Reader said...

Danielle, did you notice your quote above mine?!

Tony said...

Starbucks? How disappointing ;)

Paperback Reader said...

Tony, I will readily admit to shamelessly being addicted to Starbucks! It's the one non-essential indulgence that I really allow myself these days so I feel no guilt (especially since I no longer drink coffee and could easily have a tea at home instead of frequenting an independent coffee shop). However, I do support the small publisher ;).

Vivienne said...

That is wonderful that the publishers included lots of quotes used by other bloggers and yourselves. I really need to get hold of one of these catalogues.

Rachel said...

Oh Claire, I was so excited when I got mine and saw my name in print!
After you texted me, I emailed Naomi and she came sprinting down the corridor to my office to tell me how excited she was!
We are just about to go off on our lunchbreak to squeal over my copy...isn't is so wonderful to see all of us in there?! I love how Persephone embrace and value bloggers!
High Wages is my desperate 'want it NOW!' of the new books but the Laski has also massively intrigued me.
And as for a Starbucks chai latte - Claire, I totally agree - an indulgence worth making, any time.

Thomas said...

You and Farmlane are right about blogger influence. If it were not for pretty much everyone who has made a comment hear (and Simon at Stuck in a Book who was my gateway into your presence...) I would have never heard of Persephone let alone place an order for a cool dozen (of which 8 are still somewhere betwixt London and Washington DC).

Paperback Reader said...

Vivienne, I definitely recommend adding your name to the mailing list via the Persephone website as both biannually and catalogue are such a treat.

Rachel, I love your and Naomi's infectious enthusiasm! I squealed yesterday when I saw my moniker and immediately text you and Simon T.
I want High Wages too but To Bed... has me intrigued and luckily my library have a copy of Manja so I've requested that (I can't buy any more of the back catalogue just now! or any books, come to that...)

I will always indulge in Starbucks and grow ridiculously hyper when I know that the red cups are coming!

Thomas, I CANNOT wait until I see your cool dozen - how wonderful! Happy to oblige ;).

Jenny said...

Congratulations! You're famous now! :) I think Persephone is so cool; I wish I had visited their bookshop when I had the chance...

Book Psmith said...

What an ideal way to spend an hour. I look forward to reading the Whipple story...perhaps after I will finally commit to ordering one of her books.

Paperback Reader said...

Jenny, I only made my first visit this time last year but it was the first of many!

Book Psmith, the paragraphs about Whipple in the Biannually are very interesting as is the short story. I definitely recommend what I've read so far and I am eking out the others.

savidgereads said...

It's a wonderful read isn't it Claire. I was going to drop you an email and say how lovely it was to see you mentioned, but now will just pop it on here.

Rachel said...

Oooh just wanted to add that the Whipple story is wonderful. I love Dorothy Whipple so much!

Rachel said...
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Paperback Reader said...

Simon, it is and thanks :).

Rachel, me too!

Sophie said...
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Sophie said...

Oh, how lovely to see yourself in there! Unfortunately my copy of the Biannually gets sent home, rather than to university, so I'll have to wait a little longer to read it. Although my mum is visiting next Monday so if it's arrived I think I'll ask her to bring it with her if it's arrived! I want to read that Whipple short story...

Paperback Reader said...

Sophie, here's hoping it arrives in time for your mum to bring it with her!

StuckInABook said...

Well done us! Looking forward to this arriving...

Steph said...

I love how the Persephone catalogue is just as aesthetically pleasing as the books the company sells! It's also cool that it includes a short story, which I think is a great way to get people to see what kind of writing and vision they're all about. Since so many of their titles and authors would be unknown to most, I think that's a wonderful hook. If I weren't already pro-Persephone, this would certainly put me over the edge, I think!

Also, I agree that it was wonderful of them to feature so many bloggers. Then again, with such a passionate following, why not get the word out?

I haven't signed up for the catalogue because I admit to feeling bad about all the trees that are sacrificed for those things, especially when I can get all the same info on the website. I realize that the catalogues are works of art in and of themselves, but I have been trying to cut down on my covetous instincts!

Paperback Reader said...

Simon, I hope it arrives to console and amuse you during your swine flu!

Steph, the short stories are a wonderful inclusion and a nod to the past (when more short fiction was popular in magazines). Definitely another plus.

The free publicity provided by bloggers is definitely a good marketing ploy; we all know how powerful word-of-mouth is.

I appreciate your Green stance; to give Persephone partial due they only issue the catalogue once a year with the Autumn/Winter Biannually.

Book pusher said...

I will be adding the Laski to my wish list and I will also add Dorothy Whipple who I havn't read yet but I have been very tempted by your wonderful reviews. Congratulations on being featured in the catalogue very appropriate as it was via your blog posts and other bloggers like Bloomsbury Bell that I came to be aware of this wonderful publisher. So a big thank you from me for the heads up about some great books.

leaningtowardthesun said...

*gasp* I overlooked it completely lol.

Paperback Reader said...

Hi Book Pusher, thanks for commenting. I am so happy that I have contributed to your Persephone "education"! I definitely want more people to have the opportunity to discover and enjoy Persephone. I have enjoyed the Laski and Whipple novels I have read thus far and have high hopes for the new titles.

Danielle, I'm happy to point it out :). It's thrilling!

claire said...

Oh Claire this is so exciting! I'll get back to this post and the comments after the readathon, I'm so exhausted doing everything as tomorrow I'm doing nothing but read! xoxo But I just had to comment! *big smile on face* Gnite!

Mystica said...

Just read about this bookshop and its catalogue on another blog and here again its highlighted. Its a sign!

Paperback Reader said...

Claire, I love your excitement and happy that I could break the great news! Good luck with the readathon; I'm not participating but I do plan on reading as much as I can this weekend.

Hi Mystica, thanks for commenting. I would be taking that as a sign too!

Nymeth said...

Thank you for sharing the picture! It's so weird to see my words on an actual page! And thank you also for introducing me to Persephone, of course :D

Paperback Reader said...

You're welcome, Ana, on all counts :).

Lizzy Siddal said...

If I leave Tower Hill at 17:00, can I make it to the Persephone Bookshop before closing time at 18:00? If yes, then I'll be leaving the shop with "Manja" - thanks for the tip!

Paperback Reader said...

Oh I think you can! I am such an enabler. Lucky my library had a copy for me to request as otherwise I would have broken my book-buying ban.

Danielle said...

How cool to see your name and review there! I can't wait to get mine in the mail. At least I will have something bookish to look forward to. I am contemplating giving up my book buying ban just very temporarily for the holidays and ordering a book or two from Persephone Books. We'll see if I can fight the temptation! Thanks for sharing--can't wait to see it in person.

Paperback Reader said...

I hope you receive your copy soon, Danielle. Something bookish in the mail is lovely when you have a self-imposed book-buying ban in place. I am holding out until I visit the shop for cake in January; Christmas may bring me one or two so I can wait until then.

Samantha said...

Alas, I am still waiting for my copy to reach me here in Australia :-(

Paperback Reader said...

I hope you receive it soon! The postal strikes here are causing huge delays (as well as then having to make its way around most of the world).