A few weekends ago, The Hubs and I were in London to hang out with visiting family. In between lunch and The Tate Museum, I had the chance to pop into a small bookstore that I'd been dreaming about ever since I took up reading again, this time as a serious adult hobby. It all started with a used copy of Miss Buncle's Book by D. E. Stevenson. And not just any used copy, but an honest-to-goodness Persephone edition, for $8!
In the last two years, I've found a lot of good books online and in second-hand bookstores in Colorado Springs, but none as special as Miss Buncle's Book. My initial thoughts were, 'Holy tanuki suit, what a great find!' and 'Who in their right mind would part with a Persephone edition?'
Fast-foward: The Hubs seizes on a rare opportunity to work in England, and now here we are. Out of the few shops in London that I couldn't wait to visit, this one was at the top of my list. Coming here was a little like a pilgrimage.
According to the company's website, Persephone Books 'reprints neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-century (mostly women) writers.' With the exception of the Persephone Classics with their illustrated covers, the books sold here are all bound in identical gray 'jackets'.
You'll find wartime memoirs, novels, an early 20th Century cookbook or two. Need a little help running your household, circa 1930's? Here's a book for you. Don't employ servants? Not a problem! Here, read this!
Right now, I'm a big fan of novels that depict British life during wartime. One of the titles on my to-read list is Few Eggs and No Oranges, a diary written by Vere Hodgson during WWII. It was a bit hard to locate on the shelves among the identical gray covers, and when I did find it I was taken aback by how many pages thick it actually is. Like, 600 pages thick. Sign me up!
The Hubs wandered in after a few minutes and browsed a bit. He later admitted after we left that the shop wasn't what he expected. I guess he was thrown off by how charming and organized everything was, and that all the books had the same gray covers.
I can't wait to make my next book purchase, though I'm going to have to pace myself. If you convert the pounds into dollars, buying a full priced book here is no different from buying a full priced paperback at your local Barnes & Noble, so I'm going to have to limit my visits to this shop down to once in a blue moon.
As I was making my way out, the proud owner of a butt-spanking new Persephone book, I overheard a customer ask the nice sales associate for any recommendations, preferably something funny. I couldn't help myself; I pointed her in the direction of Miss Buncle's Book. That was my good deed for that weekend.