Perfectly Placed: Books from this Independent Publishing House Comfort the Soul - Arts & Culture

For your next read, try out Persephone Books, which might soothe your anxieties.

Persephone Books is an independent publishing house that re-prints long-forgotten books from mostly female writers that have fallen by the wayside amidst England’s long history of literary giants. Its chic, aesthetically pleasing book covers are both collectible wonders and a nourishing balm for the soul.

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Mariana by Monica Dickens

Mariana - Persephone Books Recommendations
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Written by Charles Dickens’ great-granddaughter, Mariana is the story of a young English girl growing up in the pre-war years. We watch Mary at drama school, on holiday with her eccentric family, on a year in Paris, her various jobs, her minor and major romances. Similar to books like Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle or Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love, the story of Mariana is the comforting read of a lady in the 1930s that could easily be set today. 

The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Making of a Marchioness - Persephone Recommendations
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Frances Hodgson Burnett is more famously known for The Secret Garden, but go ahead and give The Making of a Marchioness a look. Emily Fox-Seton, a highborn woman lacking in funds, works as a companion to Lady Maria Bayne. Bayne sets in motion a courtship with James the Marquess of Walderhurst, which succeeds. The story, however, does not end. Machinations abound from a man with a spurned inheritance, and the suspenseful ending will keep the reader on their toes. 

They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple

They Were Sisters - Persephone Books Recommendations
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Dorothy Whipple’s They Were Sisters is about three sisters whose choices in the men they marry determine their future. Lucy makes a good match, Vera’s married life lacks excitement, and Charlotte’s decision set in motion the changes of a vibrant young girl into a deeply saddened woman. Whipple’s writing is a very lucid portrayal of the life of women in that period, trying to live and survive a world that has no room for them beyond appearances.

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding - Persephone Books Recommendations
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Published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press in 1932 and republished by Persephone Books in 2009, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding focuses on the manic preparations for Dolly’s wedding. Family, friends, and companions besiege the manor house with cheer and chaos threatening to overturn the celebrations. Trouble arrives when Joseph, a previous paramour arrives to throw a wrench into the proceedings. Dolly is stuck in the middle of a choice: run away with Joseph or go ahead with the planned wedding. The book was adapted into a movie in 2012, starring Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones and Downton Abbey’s Elizabeth McGovern.

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day - Persephone Books Recommendations

Miss Pettigrew is a governess who is sent by an employment agency to her new job, only to arrive at the wrong location: there, she meets a nightclub singer, Miss LaFosse, and sets on an adventure she never thought was possible. Sheer fun and exuberance at the joy of living populate this book by Watson, that was adapted into a movie in 2008, starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams. 

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