Persephone is a perfect place to restart my reviews of book shops, its such a unique gem. Tucked away in London’s literary Bloomsbury it could easily go unnoticed, despite the pretty window display and clear signage announcing its presence.
I have visited the Persephone shop twice in the last month and loved it each time. The shop has the gentile feel of a drawing room with its reading lamps, chairs and tables piled with books and welcoming jugs of flowers. All of these a lovely addition to the gentle hum of bookish folk scanning the shelves.
Persephone books reprints neglected classics by twentieth century (mostly women) writers. The current collection is around 100 and features novel, short stories, diaries and cookery books. Mostly the books are stylishly jacketed in dove grey covers, with only the title and Persephone logo for adornment. The inside front and back covers though, are all individually printed in suitably vintage patterns, and each comes with a matching bookmark. So although each book looks identical on the outside, whats inside is very different. Don’t judge a book by its cover as they say! These books make such gorgeous presents, and I can guarantee that many of my book loving friends and family will be lucky recipients in the future.
The first time I visited Persephone was with my husband with the sole intention of buying ‘The Homemaker’ by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (which incidentally I loved and will review here in a couple of days). This was a good introductory visit but my husband being a little less bookish than me and certainly not as interested in female writers of the twentieth century was less inclined to linger. So, my second visit was alone and purely for browsing purposes. That said I managed to emerge some while later with a collection of delicious books, not all for me you understand!
I suspect that many reading this won’t have the opportunity to visit the shop, but no need to be down hearted, all the books are available to order from the website. Now of course ordering on line will never give the tactile joy that comes from, gently stroking the books, whilst soaking up the tranquil Persephone atmosphere but I have to say the website is a jolly good substitute, and I urge you to have a look. There are so many interesting things to read and beautiful images to gaze upon.
Persephone also produces ‘The Persephone Biannually’, a free magazine with article about all their latest titles. The online ‘Persephone Letter’ is a lovely read as is the Persephone Forum. Persephone the shop and Persephone books are the perfect antidote to modern life. Prepare to be seduced and drawn into this wonderful world of intelligent, relevant writing.