Thursday, May 6, 2010

Discovering Persephone Books


I've read a lot of posts this week about how readers discovered Persephone Books so I thought I'd share my own experience.  I think this was back in 2005 or 2006 when we were living in Hong Kong and I wasn't aware book blogs or Library Thing existed. My next book read would always come from browsing through Amazon. I loved the feature of List Manias or "So you'd like to..." and that's how I came across Persephone books. Somehow readers who enjoyed many of my favourite novels would also list Persephone books on their book lists. I was intrigued by the beautiful grey covers and the fact that they were rediscovered novels from the first half of the twentieth century, an era I've always been interested in.

Persephone Books are not available in Hong Kong nor in any other part of Asia (correct me if I'm wrong) so I decided to order one from Amazon. I was hard pressed to choose which one as they all sounded interesting. I finally settled on Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, probably the obvious choice for a first-timer. I confess though that it languished on my shelves till late 2008 which is when I finally read it. Though it isn't one of my favourite Persephones, I enjoyed it enough to make a new order for three more books: Mariana, The Shuttle and The Far Cry. All of them were wonderful...in fact, much, much more than Miss Pettigrew, and since then I just haven't stopped. I sometimes feel like I'm the only Persephone reader in Asia and I wonder if Nicola has plans to distribute them here. I've enjoyed introducing Persephones to friends, some of whom have searched in vain for them in major bookstores in major Asian cities. It would certainly be wonderful to go to my favourite local bookshop one day and see a Persephone there.

How did you discover Persephone Books and which ones are your favourites so far?

14 comments:

  1. I love Mariana, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding, and Good Evening, Mrs. Craven! The Persephone book covers are so lovely, aren't they?

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  2. I discovered them through my sister - I think she gave me Miss Pettigrew as a gift. My favourite at the moment is Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary though time will tell if it stays there as I've only just read it. Could you not ask and ask and ask in bookshops about Persephone, and get your friends to and then they might think there's a demand in your corner of the world?

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  3. It's a shame you can't go and get them easily in Asia...perhaps you should set up a shop?! I discovered Persephone books at university after searching for a photo of Mr Rochester from the BBC Jane Eyre (sad, I know, but he is gorgeous) - instead I found Tea with Mr Rochester, which led me to the Persephone site, and the rest is history! My favourites so far are The Homemaker and anything by Dorothy Whipple but I'm yet to read them all so there may be another gem out there!

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  4. I always love hearing how people came across Persephone - and feel so blessed that I can find them so easily, even seeing them in secondhand bookshops often. If I ever return to the Philippines, I'll make sure to bring some for you!

    I was already a fan of Richmal Crompton's novels (which I'd found while browsing in a secondhand bookshop) when I saw that Persephone had reprinted Family Roundabout. I spotted that they'd also reprinted EM Delafield, and that sold it to me.

    Favourites? Well... I've read about 36, so lots to choose from. Family Roundabout, Cheerful Weather For The Wedding, Hostages to Fortune and The Runaway are the four which come to mind first. But then there are Someone at a Distance and Consequences... and... and... (!!)

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  5. I loved reading your Persephone story although sad that they are not more readily available to you (and your friends and new readers) in the Philippines.

    My favourites are Lady Rose & Mrs Memmary, The Shuttle, Little Boy Lost, Someone at a Distance and on and on.

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  6. What a lovely story of Persephone discovery. I think that i heard of them through word of mouth. A friend mentioned that she thought I would like them and so we visited the main London shop together amd found there a real den of treasures!
    I have linked to your lovely blog in my latest post.
    Happy reading
    Hannah

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  7. Ooh, it's so much fun hearing about how people discover Persephone books. I wish they were available EVERYWHERE!

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  8. I think I first heard about them in an article published by the Guardian.... The thought of an entire shop full of grey spines is amazing! I'm sure I'll visit one day.

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  9. I am still very new to the Persephone books and so far I have only read two. It sound fabulous that the Persephone books are reaching such a world wide audience.

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  10. I'm with you on Miss Pettigrew. Although I haven't actually read it. The movie version annoyed me and I am afraid may have soured me on picking up the book.

    I loved hearing your Persephone discovery story. I like a book blog that tells me about the blogger.

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  11. Just popping over to reply to your comment... yes, I spent a month in Manila in 2006! Such a lovely country, really lovely people. I did look round one of the bookshops in that chain, National Bookstore, is it? But I didn't buy anything... and the only book I had with me for the month was a Complete Works of Shakespeare. It was amusingly counter-cultural, being jogged around on crowded jeepneys whilst reading Taming of the Shrew!!

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  12. The Book Depository has free shipping to Hong Kong, and they stock Persephones...

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  13. I introduced my brother and sister-in-law to Persephone; they live in Singapore and I was able to order books from the shop and have them shipped out as a gift.

    My favourite so far is a tie between Saplings and Miss Ranskill - clearly a WWII bias!

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  14. I just got my first Persephone book recently from Amazon and now I see why people like them so much-the books are works of art-the title I have is Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple-

    in response to Stuckinabook-I know what you mean by counter-cultural-I once spent about 2 hours reading one of Tolstoy's short novels in a Starbucks in one of the huge Manila Malls-

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