These last few days, my time has not been measured in hours and minutes, but by pages and chapters, so deeply has Emma Smith’s ‘The Far Cry’ absorbed me. The vivid, multicoloured, extraordinary description of the sudden flight of a young girl and her father to India is a delight to read. The sense of place is sublimely evoked by a gift for listing unparalleled in modern literature!
Oh, Persephone Books, you spoil me! For it is not just this gem that you’ve excavated from the annals of women’s literary history; you have collated and curated a stunning collection of neglected and out of print works from the early to mid-twentieth century.
‘Cheerful Weather for the Wedding’ by Julia Strachey is another triumph. This close, sardonic deconstruction of a family on a single day makes for a pacey novella worth reading.
I feel as if I could hole myself up in a grey, paperbacked fortress and be merry for a good long time with only your beautiful wares for company. Never before have I been so enchanted by the endpapers of volumes, so carefully selected from archives and museums to illustrate the era and subject matter of the texts. For Susan Glaspell’s ‘Fidelity’, for example, the image of 19th Century quilting beautifully echoes the scenery and content of the novel. This is such a marvellous story of a woman running off with someone else’s husband. Its moral depth and compassion are admirable.
I must also mention ‘The New House’ by the brilliantly named Lettice Cooper. This is an intimate portrayal of a single day in the lives of a family moving from a grand house with beautiful gardens to a smaller property overlooking a council estate. The characters are believably complex and their relationships acutely naturalistic. Persephone Books, your choices are exceptional, and I haven’t even got around to mentioning the non-fiction works, or short story collections (‘Tea with Mr Rochester’ by Frances Towers was a particular joy).
Thank you, Persephone Books, for finding and reprinting these wonderful examples of women’s literature. You have made me very happy.
with love and admiration,