Monday, May 3, 2010

It's Persephone Reading Week!

Persephone Reading Week is finally here! Our hosts for the week of " dove-grey covers and striking end-papers" are Verity of The B Files and Claire of Paperback Reader. Verity and Claire will run a series of posts high-lighting Persephone Books, collect review posts from participants, and also sponsor a giveaway or two.

This is actually the second Persephone Reading Week. We were away on vacation for last August's edition (though I still managed to read most of Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple), so I'm very excited to be participating this time around. What will I be reading?

Doreen by Barbara Noble (No. 60)

from the Persephone website:
In 1946 the theme of Doreen was, alas, horrifyingly topical - whether parents should have sent their children away from cities that might be bombed; and if they had done so, whether they could hope to maintain their relationship with them. 'The experience of this long separation, very difficult for all concerned at the time, often proved traumatic over a lifetime' comments Jessica Mann.

Barbara Noble writes with great insight about the mind of a child torn between her mother, whom she leaves behind in London, and the couple who take her in. Everyone wants only the best for Doreen yet, in the end, what is being explored is a clash of values: those looking after her will eventually realise that Doreen will go back 'to a world where most of the things you've taught her will be drawbacks rather than advantages.'

This is a deeply involving book, fascinating for the portrayal of the child torn between mother and temporary mother, and for its understanding of the tyrannies of the English class system. 'The manner of telling this poignant, subtle tragedy is beyond admiration, restrained, penetrating, deeply moving,' wrote Dorothy Canfield Fisher; and the Spectator reviewer described 'a gentle, serious story in which...the author's argument is scrupulously fair; she is observant, sensitive and intellligent.'

The endpaper is taken from a 1940 silk scarf 'London Alert' designed by Arnold Lever for Jacqmar (it is owned by a Persephone reader).

Are you in? What are you reading?


  1. I'm pleased you liked the description of a week of "dove-grey covers and striking end-papers"!

    Enjoy Doreen. I think that this week will be quite WW2-centric although their is a (favourable) bias in the catalogue towards the era.

    I am currently reading Brook Evans and everything else is up for debate ... (post relating to that forthcoming).

  2. I think that the Doreen endpaper is particularly striking!

  3. I read Doreen last year, and it is a delight. Wonderfully percptive and beautifully observed, it is a book that has stayed with me.

    And Jessica Mann's introduction is both informative and thought-provoking. She's an underrated author herself.

  4. I'm definitely in! Family Roundabout is up first and if I burn some late night oil I may squeeze in The New House. Looking forward to your review of Doreen!

  5. I am way in. And having so much fun. Whipple's High Wages is posted with Greenery Street, The Making of a Marchioness, and the Runaway to come.

  6. I love the synopsis of this book. I'm curious about the idea of sending a child away, even to protect him, and how that act effects everyone involved. This sounds excellent for satisfying my curiosity. The endpaper is beautiful.

    I hadn't heard of Persephone books until last year when Fleur Fisher featured them on her blog. I keep telling myself to buy a few.

  7. I love that end paper. And I love the book itself even more!

  8. Oh, I am so in! Currently reading Cheerful Weather for the Wedding and loving the language. Have 4 more very optimistically lined up but don't think that will happen. :) Love the sound of Doreen!

  9. This sounds like a brilliant choice. Am very much looking forward to your review!

  10. This topic is so fascinating to know that parents all over England and Europe were making this most difficult decision during the war...I prefer to read about it because the one documentary I watched about Jewish Dutch who were taken in by Christian families was just too hard to watch (let alone live through)...I have added this to my wishlist. I am so glad you are able to fully participate in this one:)

  11. I would be if I could ever figure out how to get my hands on one of these books!! Have fun!

  12. Paperback Reader - I loved your description of "dove-grey covers and striking end-papers"! I feel a WW II reading streak coming on, so I'd be delighted if the week's reviews head in that direction.

    Verity - Isn't that end-paper striking?

    Fleurfisher - The introduction to Doreen was very well done. I'll be sure to look up Jessica Mann's work.

    Darlene - I doubt I'll finish more than one book, but a girl can still dream...

    Thomas - Looking forward to all your reviews - it's going to be a great week! I've given myself permission to place an order at the end.

    Margot - This is a fascinating book! It raises so many issues, with class being foremost.

    Nymeth - I'm loving this one, too!

    Frances - I'm not familiar with Cheerful Weather for a Wedding, so I'll eagerly await your review!

    Skirmishofwit - I'm loving every page of Doreen!

    Book Psmith - This is a fascinating topic! I got interested in children's war experiences after reading Sarah's Key, and I'm sure I'll be looking for more on the subject.

    Staci - My entire library system has only one Persephone! I found MIss Pettigrew at B&N, and won Doreen in a giveaway.

  13. Perhaps I am the only one who doesn't know what Persephone week is -- had to look it up in the dictionary.

  14. This is one of the Persephones I've had on my wishlist for ages, and I can see I'm really going to have to get a copy!

  15. Oooh like Kate at Makedo I've had this on my wishlist for ages - I can't wait for your thoughts! I'm currently reading Housebound and am loving it!

  16. Kim - Persephone is a small press that publishes 'forgotten classics' from 20th century (mostly women) writers. I've loved each of the books I've read. Here is there website:

    Makedoandread - So far, Doreen is excellent!

    Bookssnob - I'm thinking this is one you'll need to add to your wishlist ;-)


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! Be sure to check back, I always respond. Due to a recent increase in spam, all comments are moderated.


Related Posts with Thumbnails