Thursday, December 11, 2014

Biannually on my pink sofa

It was Sue of The Quince Tree, a woman of impeccable taste, who first made me aware of Persephone Books, and when I spotted the name cropping up on other blogs I thought I'd better hasten to request their Biannually and take a photo of it propped up against the unsteady candlestick in front of the big round mirror.



I've also signed up to their Persephone letter, their Persephone forum, their Persephone post, the whole Persephone shebang. Now I plan to read their appealing dove grey books with fabric pattern end-papers – how could I resist fabric pattern end-papers? –  and look forward to being immersed in a world of doughty and complicated women as I sip my cocoa with a splash of brandy.


I took a photo of the Biannually on my pink sofa as well, my favourite one.

The only thing that gives me pause is the frequent reference in their communications to 'the Persephone girls' or 'our girls.'  It conjures up an image of someone halfway along the continuum between Miss J. Hunter Dunn and Dame Maggie Smith, wearing Swedish Hasbeens shoes and plaits in their hair. Not that I object to Hasbeens and plaits, and very nice they look on myself, to be sure.  I'm a woman, though; not a girl.

All that remains on the 2014 101% Full Tilt Spirit of Christmas checklist here now is to finalise something suitable to put under the tree for Scottish Husband, who can be very challenging to shop for. Last Christmas, I gave him folk art but the very next day he gave it away. This year, to save me from tears, I'm giving him something metal, metal...

44 comments:

  1. Mise, I too have noticed Sue' s talk of Persephone, but, have not looked further, now it is on the to do list, which actually reads more like a novel!! Brandy in cocoa is very commendable, I am so busy at the moment that if I open the brandy it will be making an appearance in my breakfast porridge!! x

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    1. Just let me know when you open the brandy, Niki, and I'll bring a glass over.

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    2. Ha ha, keep it handy, it will be any day now xx

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  2. Once you start on persephone books, you can never, ever, stop wanting to own more...

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    1. I suspect you're right, Toffeeapple. I saw them neatly lined up at Lucille's and knew that I'd be doomed if I bought one.

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    2. My lining up method has failed me. I normally put my books in alphabetical order of course, but decided these should be in numerical order to tally with the Biannually. However their dove-greyness makes them very hard to differentiate when you want another fix and they don't print the number on the spine which is a shame, and so I am now in possession of two copies of Greenbanks by Dorothy Whipple. By rights that should prompt a giveaway but last time I tried that I had very few takers. So few that I had no need of a random number generator.

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    3. I am 100% guaranteed to be an entrant, plus all the imaginary personae for whom I shall create temporary email addresses to increase my chances.

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  3. Persephone books momentarily sank a little in my esteem when they were featured on ' Made in Chelsea ' …. but then, how did I know that ?!!!!!
    …. and Mise, there is nothing worse than an unsteady candlestick. XXXX

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    1. Oh no really? My heart has also sunk a little at that news.

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    2. Jolly good thing we no longer have a telly.

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  4. I will look that Persephone books up - but as I am drowing in so many books I have and/or want to read (already on/under/beside my desk), I doubt whether a pretty print will allure me (your pink sofa would, without question - because pink is my signature feature (makes it so easy for people to find sophisticated presents - in pink). Though - compared to Barbara Cartland's abundance in Pink I am --- still ...a girl...

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    1. Have you read Pierre Bayard's 'How to Talk About Books you Haven't Read', Britta? It would solve the book problem. I haven't read it yet, so I hardly dare talk about it.

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    2. Please send me the sequels: "How to Write About Books you Haven't Read", and "How to Translate Books you Haven't Read" - that's my job :-)

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  5. They do look very pretty, I didn't realise they were for reading too. I fear they are far too elegant and sophisticated for me. Thank you very much for the Wham link by the way, it was a real treat. CJ xx

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    1. I like you, CJ. Could you leave your beautifully scenic surroundings and move over here to be my neighbour, across the big field?

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  6. I have three Persephone books in the waiting to be read pile on my desk - I would hate to be pigeon-holed as a Persephone girl but I do so love the look and feel of them - to me the stories speak of gentler times. Good luck with choosing the Scottish husband's present - men are a nightmare to buy for.

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    1. The gentler times would suit you well, Elaine. You're certainly a Persephone character.

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  7. I'm about to set off in search of my own husband's Christmas present. Do you think I could convince him that what he secretly wants is a pink sofa exactly like yours?

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    1. He would surely love a pink sofa, Mrs Ford. Who wouldn't, after all.

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  8. Dear Mise, I am putting Persephone on my list of wants, like you the whole shebang!
    Now for the guys, yes anything metal preferably steel (which men seem to think they themselves are made of!)

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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    1. I was thinking Titanium, dear Karena, but its atomic mass seems to be 47.867 ± 0.001 u, which seems a bit low for cutlery.

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  9. Good morning Mise. I've comments on several topics. The pink sofa is qute a beautiful color and serves Persephone materials very well. I first met Nicola Beauman, who started PB, over here in New York, via a mutual friend. I was invited to attend a coffee morning to discuss a book Persephone was going to reissue, and as usual, had found the original way-back-when edition in my library stacks and was able to participate a bit in the discussion about the book. We also spoke about knitting.

    Now, whenever I travel to London, I visit the tiny Persephone shop and have even helped with the mailings of the Biannually booklets. Perhaps this qualifies my elderly self as a Persephone Girl! On my most recent trip, I purchased Ambrose Heath's The Country Life Cookery Book, mainly because of the illustrations by Eric Ravilious ... and the opportunity for another of those glipses into earlier times.

    My library continues to provide me with the original editions of just about every novel that PB reissues, and it's okay with Nicola, who knows of the marvelous New York Society Library. I have even gotten the library to purchase Nicola's son's recent books.

    Moving on. Yesterday, I actually entered my neighborhood MAC shop. I'd just stopped by the neighborhood farmers market and offered one of the elaborately made up MAC women one of my apples, and mentioned you and your Dubonnet. And then we had an enjoyable 20 minutes or so playing around a bit with various lipstick choices, varying in hue, intensity and deepness. I actually bought two lipticks in colors I most likely would not have otherwise given a chance. Viva Glam VI and Up the Amp.

    I wish you good fortune in selecting your husband's gift. Will he not give you a hint?

    Thank you, Mise. xo

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    1. You always comment most interestingly, Frances! If you are a Persephone Girl, than it’s clear that a Persephone Girl is an entirely laudable thing to be and I will perforce lower my raised eyebrow.

      Somehow, it seems to suit the nature of the dove grey Persephones that they should be borrowed from a library rather than purchased - their very ethos seems to be one of community and the sharing of experience (womanly traits?), which are most suited to a library context. I suppose the best thing of all is to steal them from a library, so that one may be a part of that community yet keep the dove greys to line up beguilingly on one’s own shelf.

      Give my respects to Nicola, please, when you speak to her, for the beauty and grace of her business.

      And I’m delighted you’ve purchased a few MAC lipsticks! I hope we will be given a glimpse of them, perhaps when you have a cowl or a scarf to show us, and that they will bring you a vivid joy.

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  10. p.s. Yes, I did catch the Wham reference.

    xo

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  11. Replies
    1. Not at all, Tom, I am ruthless with the delete function hereabouts.

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    2. I don't blame you. I do have a mental image of Betjeman reciting it, though, and sometimes I just cannot help but share it.

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  12. Oh golly, I only have the one Persphone book and didn't realise there was such a thing as a Persephone girl. I think I'm probably more of a Dubonnet sort of girl myself but will try harder on the Persephone front!

    What is it about husbands at the moment? Lucille has issues with her northern husband's storage habits and now you with Scottish husband's present dilemma. Personally, I just have husband and not-husband issues generally

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    1. Your husband situation sounds peskily polarised, Marianne. Perhaps we all need a glass of wine.

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  13. I know nothing about these books. Feeling very much the shallow American.

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    1. You people have McAusland's blankets over there, Jen; that makes you way ahead of us.

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  14. My companion often refers to me as a gel, dear Mise. Please advise.

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    1. I believe a 'gel' is a well-bred substance for slicking back one's hair, dear Ada; could it be that it is no longer falling unattractively abut your face?

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    2. Why, my dear, only a few short hours ago I applied a gel-like substance promising 'extra curls' to my hair. My companion (the very same one as before) said in awed tones that it lends me a '70s air'. Also, I received many admiring looks at the supermarket just now, which I went to alone as my companion was too busy to accompany me. It is indeed a wonder product.

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    3. What a joy, my dear, to visit the supermarket alone and not be made to purchase any green vegetables. Fortune has smiled upon you.

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  15. Hello Mise
    As always your home looks warm and inviting. I have a few Persphone books in paperback. Now don't tell me you are going to buy books just because all the bindings match!! Ha Ha. Regarding the reference to being a Persphone girl and a member of such a club, my friend Groucho came to mind when he said:"PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER".

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  16. What a splendid present for yourself . The books are all so pretty .
    I'm not too keen on the shop , though ..... I feel as though I should genuflect on entering . I'm probably more a charity shop sort of person , these days .

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  17. Just discovered your blog (after seeing your most witty comment above mine on CJ Above the River) and have been having a huge (wry) chuckle at lots of your posts. Lovely to discover you!

    I am with you all the way on the Persephone books too; okay not quite all the while as I have yet to sign up for all their gumph, but after seeing the lovely grey covers on so many other blogs, I did search a few out at the library...

    Look forward to hearing more!

    Sabrina

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  18. I have never heard of the books or the blankets. But I am a very tired florist so must be forgiven much.

    I know have a lovely Irishman living next door to me and he tells me not to be daft and that next year he and his wife will try for a little nipper.

    This vocabulary is music to my exhausted brain.

    Maybe he has the books....

    xo J



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  19. Happy Christmas dear Mise and all the best to you and yours for 2015.

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  20. What Lucille said.

    Christmas kisses. xx

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  21. Cocoa and brandy ~ why have I not thought of that before?! I hope you found Scottish husband something acceptable to his sensitive tastes, dear Mise. x0

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  22. Given that it's the 27th , I wouldn't dream of wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas .
    Instead I'll just say "Happy New Year " !!

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  23. Darling Mise,

    We have been Pretty Far South whilst you, as always are Pretty Far West and we have missed you.....by miles and miles and miles.

    We like to think that Christmastide was joyful for you all and that Santa was kind.

    We imagine the pink sofa to have been bounced upon by over excited individuals, that fancy hats were de rigeur and that party food was in abundance with millions of hundreds and thousands decorating deliciously decadent cupcakes, beautifully presented on doilies on equally beautiful plates. Ahhhh.....such is the stuff of which Christmas dreams are made.

    We thank you for the kind comments which you have left for us. They matter more than you can imagine. We wish you all every joy in 2015.

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You're looking particularly well.

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