Sunday, April 15, 2007

Persephone Books

Almost a month since I last posted (properly)! Time flies – I don’t think I’ve even managed to read very much over the last few weeks.

That’s a lie, really. I know I’ve been reading, just not things that are strictly to do with world literature. My favourite part of this last month’s reading has been the discovery of Persephone Books.
I know quite a few bloggers have discovered them recently, or known and loved them for a while, and I’m going to add my voice to those of the devoted. The company itself has a touch of the magical about it, and even the way in which I read my first book is special! I first heard about Persephone Books a couple of years ago when reading India Knight’s book The Shops (great fun to read, I recommend that one too). My lasting impression is, I think, how she raved about the elegance of their grey covers with their vintage prints inside the covers. Just the descriptions of the way these books would look on a bookshelf made me covet one, never mind about the contents. I forget why, but I never actually bought one. Then, a couple of weeks ago, a parcel landed on my doormat, and on opening it I discovered – much to my great delight – a Persephone book with a note from a friend saying Happy early/late Birthday, she’d seen the Persephone shop and thought of me! I was incredibly touched and impressed by her excellent taste and devoured the book in less than 24 hours. It is called Little Boy Lost and is by Marghanita Laski. I can honestly say it was the best read I’ve had in a while for pure entertainment value. During WWII, a man was separated from his wife and baby boy. His wife was subsequently murdered by the Nazis and his child lost. After the war had finished, he returned from America to search for his son in Europe but can find nothing concrete. With the help of a friend, he identifies one child in an orphanage that might be his son, but when he visits the boy he sees no physical resemblance and the child can remember nothing of his early life. In the days that follow, the man becomes acquainted with the boy and it seems increasingly likely that this boy is in fact not his son. Ultimately the man has to make a choice – should he leave and get on with his life and accept that his son was lost and probably killed, or should he take the child from the orphanage and try to give him a better life? Does it matter that the child is not his son? Where does his duty lie? Laski evokes a complex emotional moral dilemma so well I couldn’t put the book down and was practically crying in the hairdressers by the time I finished the last page. The last sentence was utterly perfect and I’ll always remember the story. I know some of you out there are looking to buy some more Persephone books, and I really can’t recommend this one enough.

Aisha, huge thanks again for sending me this one – I love it and you!

Here's the Persephone catalogue entry for Little Boy Lost.


Imani said...

I'm so glad to see you back at blogging--and to post about such a great book too! I've had that author on my to buy list for quite some time now, and it was also because of some bloggers mentioning Persephone books.

Bookgirl said...

Ah, you've discovered the wonders of Persephone Books :) I've got five or six on my shelf and there is something about those grey covers. I highly recommend The Victorian Chaise Longue.

Danielle said...

I love Persephone Books, too!! I just started reading Mariana by Monica Dickens (their #2 book). I also just placed an order from them--very bad of me, but I couldn't resist any longer. They are lovely books!! I ditto bookgirl--The Victorian Chaise Longue is nice and creepy!