Sunday, 3 July 2011

Persephone is on the landing and eating chocolate.

This is a photograph of my treasured bookshelf.

Not my only one- as my house is built of books.
But this is my comfort zone.

My Persephone shelf , which is also lined with Virago titles and Enid Blyton copies represents a facet of my life.

The Enid Blyton are there for colour blending but also to remind me of how as a child I would retreat into my own world. On a Saturday I would spend my pocket money on a couple of Enid Blyton books in the local junk shop. My Parents would be shopping in the Co-op and I would go next door, through hidden treasures of neglected and rejected objects - which I never noticed [my Husband would be pleased] to the back of this emporium until I found the shelves of discarded books.

There would begin my love affair with books and food.  I would go to my Parent's  blue sweet tub for my weekend treat of chocolate , often a Milky Way or Galaxy Counters and hide myself away with apples, chocolate and non- alcoholic ginger beer and disappear into the world of  Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog [The Famous Five]. I loved 'The Adventure' series with Philip, Jack, Dinah,Lucy-Ann and the cockatoo Kiki,' The Ship of Adventure'was a particular favourite. My era of boarding school adventures- not Harry Potter but the 'St Clare's' and 'Malory Towers' collections.

 Sorry, I was never that fond of Noddy.

 After many years  and many titles later I progressed onto Virago I moved to University and broadened my horizons.  Having studied Representation of Women in Art and Film amongst other disciplines, I was a frequent visitor to the local alternative bookshop. Browsing and buying the many delicious apple green spines of Virago books and entered the world of Women's Fiction. Drinking Earl Grey Tea [ it had to be Twinnings!] and eating McVities plain chocolate biscuits.I would read far into the night.

F.Tennyson Jesse's- 'A Pin to see the Peepshow', George Gissing's -' The Odd Women 'and Rosamond Lehmann's - 'Invitation to the Waltz' all memorable and probably worth a revisit.

Now I have entered my grey phase.

 The sublime vista of a grey collection, so beautiful, so symmetrical concealing a hubble bubble of ideas, emotions and intelligence. Hidden beneath an exterior that is so calm , collected and serene, it is such a delight.
It is a secret, unobtrusive yet intriguing invitation to a world of early 20th Century women's  experience and existence.

Dive into one - it is like finding the friend you always wanted. She is there waiting for you on the landing.
Not the blowsy, extrovert centre of attention type of friend. The one with no staying power. Just a beautiful cover of a face with no personality.  But the quiet, glamorous one ,hiding delicious endpapers beneath her uniformity grey. And my chocolate- well you may have guessed I have grown up into delicious Rose and Violet creams with a coffee or Wine dependent upon my mood.

So my choosen authors are now Dorothy Whipple- her wonderful 'High Wages' and' They were Sisters'. The evocative endpapers shown above are from 'Operation Heartbreak' by Duff Cooper.

So I have moved from' The Faraway Tree' [ E.Blyton]-'To Bed with Grand Music' [ Marghanita Laski].
And learnt along the way in the words of Irving Penn:

'Very often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe.'


  1. Such a lovely post! I've shared it with my friends on Facebook as well as posting it in the Virago Modern Classics Group & Persephone Books Group on!

  2. Loving this post. And I must say that Laski is marvy.

    (thank you Cate for sharing)

  3. Thank you for the comments and the links- am very new at this so am feeling delighted that you enjoy my musings.

  4. Gorgeous! I have a similar themed shelf, but yours is much prettier.

  5. Your writing and your taste in books is sublime! How wonderful to find someone who enjoys Rosamund Leamann. Your Hastings photos are really evocative too.

  6. Oh this is so beautiful! What a magical realm you inhabit, you and Persephone with chocolate on the landing...sounds like the kind of Cluedo I like to play! ...Imagine, a whole bookshelf of Persephone and green-spined Virago novels to enjoy!

    1. Edith, Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I have even more in my collection now. What a challenge to read them all. Love your name, sounds perfect for a Persephone reader.