#BookReviews #PersephoneReadathon The Fortnight in September by R.C.Sherriff and Flush by Virginia Woolf

My time doing the Persephone Readathon seems to be a big success this time round! Have found myself finishing the 2 books I’d set out to read – who knows, I might even find time to fit one more in before the end!  My thanks to Jessie at Dwell In Possibility for hosting another fabulous readathon, and making me want to keep adding to my Persephone collection!

Here’s my thoughts on the 2 wonderful books that I’ve managed to read – so far! – for this readathon!

THE FORTNIGHT IN SEPTEMBER by R.C.SHERRIFF – 5 stars

I think the brilliance of this book is its’ simplicity! There are no gimmicks, there’s not a lot that really happens! Other than you get to follow a family in the build up, and then on, their yearly 2 week holiday to the seaside. 

They go to the same place every year and have perfected the art of the routine of preparing to leave and then following the ‘same proceedure as every year’ (my nod to The Dinner For One sketch!) and how the years have gone by that small changes are beginning to appear in what happens and what each person gets from their break.

The preparation is meticulous, especially by the father. It’s like a military operation with him organising everyone to sort the ‘to do list’ – who to leave pets with, what food to leave in the fridge, which neighbour to leave the keys with – and we get to see this build up from his point of view and then from his wife’s which is slightly different. She is a quiet woman who pretends she enjoys this time, but underneath she’s very anxious and seems to just go through the motions for the sake of her family.

The boarding house they go to has seen a number of changes, not for the best, over the years but they feel duty bound to go there as the owner has become like family to them – their sense of loyalty is overwhelming. 

With the children getting older, they all seem to have different thoughts on how their holiday should be spent – the father enjoys time alone walking, the eldest of the children are beginning to enjoy a little bit of freedom – and seeing the changes in their characters as they experience different things on the holiday allows them all to breathe a little bit more when they’re around one another.

It gives them all time to dwell on achievements and disappointments they’ve all faced in the past, and seeing how they can become different people entirely when they’re around others. It also makes them appreciate the simple pleasures, especially when they encounter their fathers’ boss whose aim in life seems to be showing off his wealth with no regard for others – his vulgarity makes the family appreciate all that their father does for them.

And just as they settle into their ‘holiday mode’ their fortnight is up – a feeling we’ve all gone through and I think that’s what makes this book so appealing! It captures the feelings and the escape that a holiday can bring for a family and all those little details that make or break a day in that fortnight and the family dynamic.

A truly lovely read!!

FLUSH by VIRGINIA WOOLF – 4 stars

An enchanting ‘dog biog’ that allows you to see the world from the perspective of Flush and all he encounters in his life, starting in the country and then late in the city as the pet of Elizabeth Barrett Browning who is often confined to her room with a mystery sickness and Flush keeps her company 24/7. 

His early life is one of freedom in the countryside, so when he starts his new life in the city it is completely alien to him – the noise, the smells, the lack of freedom and he spends many years in a life of rigid routine and you sense his frustration but he accepts the restrictions as he’s devoted to his owner.

As her health improves, he finds that she’s not entirely devoted to him as her attention is taken by the dashing Mr Browning, who Flush takes an instant dislike to. Flush soon finds himself living in very difficult circumstances and it makes Elizabeth realise how important he is to her.

I found this to be a touching portrait of a dog living different lives over the years in different places and loved the way he was portrayed – the things he noticed about what was going on at the time with many touches of humour that added so much to the story and made it feel very ‘human’. Thoroughly enjoyable!

Persephone Readathon #3 – count me in!! #PersephoneReadathon #BookBlogger

One of my favourite discoveries of recent years has been the wonderful world of  Persephone Books so any excuse to spend time reading them is fine by me! Thankfully the lovely Jessie of  Dwell In Possibility sets up regular Persephone Readathons and there’s another one starting tomorrow – May 31st 2019 – and lasting until June 9th, where we all get to wallow in the loveliness that is Persephone books and there’s an opportunity to discuss all things connected! 

There are no real rules – just choose to read as much or as little Persephone over the week that you can, and this time there’s also a Persephone Readalong which you can choose to take part in as well so we can all discuss what we think of that chosen book.

I have a steadily growing colllection of 28 Persephone Books so it’s never easy choosing which ones to pick for a Readathon, but I was in a charity shop the other day and luckily managed to find a perfect condition Persephone for £1 so I had to snap it up and I think that is going to be my main focus for the week ahead

THE FORTNIGHT IN SEPTEMBER by R.C.SHERRIFF

The Fortnight in September embodies the kind of mundane normality the men in the dug-out longed for – domestic life at 22 Corunna Road in Dulwich, the train journey via Clapham Junction to the south coast, the two weeks living in lodgings and going to the beach every day. The family’s only regret is leaving their garden where, we can imagine, because it is September the dahlias are at their fiery best: as they flash past in the train they get a glimpse of their back garden, where ‘a shaft of sunlight fell through the side passage and lit up the clump of white asters by the apple tree.’ This was what the First World War soldiers longed for; this, he imagined, was what he was fighting for and would return to (as in fact Sherriff did).

He had had the idea for his novel at Bognor Regis: watching the crowds go by, and wondering what their lives were like at home, he ‘began to feel the itch to take one of those families at random and build up an imaginary story of their annual holiday by the sea…I wanted to write about simple, uncomplicated people doing normal things.’ 

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The Readalong book is available as a free download here

FLUSH by VIRGINIA WOOLF

This story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Flush, enchants right from the opening pages. Although Flush has adventures of his own with bullying dogs, horrid maids, and robbers, he also provides the reader with a glimpse into Browning’s life. Introduction by Trekkie Ritchie.

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Are you a fan of Persephone? Will you be joining in the readathon?! I hope so and look forward to seeing what everyone else is reading using the  #PersephoneReadathon tag on social media!!

HAPPY PERSEPHONE READING!!

#BookReview The Runaway by Elizabeth Anna Hart #PersephoneReadathon

Sad to see another Persephone Readathon come to an end – thanks to Jessie at Dwell In Possibility for hosting another wonderful spell of reading! Hope there’ll be another one very soon!

Had hoped to read 2 Persephone books this time round, but just managed the one as had too many other books to read. But it was a goodie so made the time fly by and so enjoyable! It ended up being my bedtime read and I was eager to get to bed every night just to read some more!

THE RUNAWAY by ELIZABETH ANNA HART  

 

This 1872 novel by a mid-Victorian poet and novelist is about a girl named Clarice, living with her widowed father and her governess ‘in a charming home at a convenient (railway) distance from the city.’ One day she finds a girl of her own age hiding in the shrubbery. She is Olga and ‘there is no question that she is the liveliest child character in English fiction’ said the Observer in 1936

Published by Persephone Books

MY REVIEW  – 4 stars

A sweet and charming read which is definitely lifted by the inclusion of some beautiful illustrations that work so well with the storyline.

Clarice is a young girl who likes to do things the right way and isn’t one to ‘play up’ but when she finds a runaway hiding in the grounds, she starts telling lies for the first time in her life to help keep Olga a secret, hidden away in her closet while trying to make her do the right thing and return home and let her family know where she is.

Olga is a peculiar and feisty young girl – she has run away as she’s not happy but keeping quiet isn’t her greatest forte so she likes to play tricks on the members of the household where Clarice lives, despite Clarice telling her to stay quiet and hidden! It doesn’t seem in her nature to do so and causes members of the staff to worry there’s strange things going on in the house.

This was lots of fun to read and would suit readers of all ages! It has that innocence about it that was refreshing to read and is one of the sweetest books I’ve read in quite a while!

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My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – Week 38 2018

Hello all! Happy Saturday to you! As I sit here typing, it’s a lovely sunny Saturday and I SHOULD be going through the backlog of reviews I have to do….. why is picking up another new book to start reading the easier option?!  So if anyone is offering to write a few reviews for me then I’ll gladly accept! I’ll make you a cup of tea and supply biscuits?!!

It’s been another mad week on the book front! It all seems to be spiralling out of control despite my best efforts to keep everything in check! Still managing to find time to read lots and have managed to finish 7 books this week! And 10 books have found new homes with me, plus one from NetGalley…..but I did donate a box of books to the local Mencap shop the other day, and got a hug from the lovely old lady in there, so I am being good and making space for the new additions!So here’s a quick look back at my week with pictures and links to GoodReads pages! Enjoy! Reviews for most of them will be posted up on here at some point….. hopefully!

BOOKS FINISHED

Ice by Anna Kavan  – 3 stars

The Eyes That Look by Julia Grigg  –  4 stars

Full review on Blog Tour – 11th October 

A Boy in the Water by Tom Gregory  – 4 stars

The Lingering by S.J.I Holliday  – 5 stars

A House of Ghosts by W.C Ryan  – 4 stars

Under The Wig by William Clegg QC  – 5 stars

Christmas at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green  – 4 stars

BOOKHAUL

Emily Nation by Alec McQuay

The Ninja Book Box Book Club pick for October!

Landfill by Tim Dee

Review copy courtesy of Little Toller Books

Where the what ifs roam and the moon is Louis Armstrong by Esther Krivda

Review copy from Wobble Hill Press ahead of Blog Tour in November 

All Quiet on the West End Front by William Rycroft

Published by Unbound and I’m one of the backers so get my name in print!

 

The Six Loves of Billy Binns by Richard Lumsden

Review copy from Tinder Press. Publication Date 24th January 2019 

The Page by M.Jonathon Lee

Prize from Hideaway Fall

The Otters Tale by Simon Cooper

Wild Kingdom by Stephen Moss

The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel

A Good Country by Laleh Khadivi

Lovely selection from Nudge Books

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib – Netgalley

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CURRENTLY READING

The Runaway by Elizabeth Anna Hart

for the Persephone Readathon!

I think that is it for the week!! I need a lie down! Hope you have had a great week too on the book front!  Read any of these?! Always love to hear your thoughts!!
 

HAPPY READING!!!

Persephone Readathon #2 – count me in!!

As my love for those little grey books grow, I can never turn down a chance to take part in a Persephone Readathon and the lovely Jessie at Dwell In Possibility is hosting another fab readathon for all of those who need an excuse to pick up a new  Persephone book!

It’s a casual affair so you can read as much or as little as you’d like and join in on the Social media side with the hashtag  #PersephoneReadathon !

So my plan is to try and take another book or two off my Persephone TBR pile!

THE BLANK WALL by ELISABETH SANXAY HOLDING

A suburban matron, harassed by wartime domestic problems – her husband is overseas – finds herself implicated in the murder of her young daughter’s extremely unattractive beau. This novel is about maternal love and about the heroine’s relationship with those around her, especially her children and her maid.

THE RUNAWAY by ELIZABETH ANNA HART

This 1872 novel by a mid-Victorian poet and novelist is about a girl named Clarice, living with her widowed father and her governess ‘in a charming home at a convenient (railway) distance from the city.’ One day she finds a girl of her own age hiding in the shrubbery. She is Olga and ‘there is no question that she is the liveliest child character in English fiction’ said the Observer in 1936.

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Have you read either of these? Just noticed that they’re both by an Elizabeth! That wasn’t intentional!!

HAPPY READING!!

#BookReview Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins #Persephonereadathon

Have had a great start to the month of June by taking part in the mini Persephone Readathon hosted by the lovely Jessie at Dwell In Possibility! Managed to finish one book and make my way through half of another book, so hopefully there’ll be another Persephone review on its’ way very soon! 

But first here’s a bit more about the book I finished and my thoughts!

Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins

About the Book

Harriet Ogilvy is a young woman with a small fortune and a mental disability, making her the ideal target for the handsome and scheming Lewis Oman. After winning Harriet’s love, Lewis, with the help of his brother and mistress, sets in motion a plan of unspeakable cruelty and evil to get his hands on her money. With consummate artistry, Elizabeth Jenkins transforms the bare facts of this case from the annals of Victorian England’s Old Bailey into an absolutely spine-chilling exploration of the depths of human depravity.

Based on the real-life 1877 case of Harriet Staunton, Harriet (1934) was a bestseller and a major critical success, beating Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust to win the Prix Femina. This edition features a new afterword by Dr. Catherine Pope. 

MY REVIEW

Seems strange to say you ‘enjoyed’ a book that was so disturbing and based on the real life case in 1877 of Harriet Staunton (the Penge Murder Mystery), but I found myself captivated and horrified in equal measures over this story.

Harriet is at the centre of the story. She had learning difficulties and was cared for by her mother, Mrs Ogilvy, until her head was turned by a chancer who promised her the world, but was really only interested in the money that Harriet had for her care after a relative left her a large amount in their will.

You can feel the agony of the mother as she watches her daughter be taken in by this man and his family who make Harriet feel that her mother has been ruining her life. But once Harriet has left and married her life is changed as she loses that care and attention from her mum, and is cruelly treated by Lewis, his brother, his sister in law and her sister, who see her as an inconvenience to be locked away out of sight. She is made to cut all ties to her mother – another heartbreaking element to the whole story.

Even when Harriet falls pregnant there seems little care or concern by those people and it was heartbreaking to see them living life to the full with no thought to Harriet and her son. After reading this book I looked up details of the real case and it made it even more tragic to read of the treatment she received.

A story that will stay with me for a long time to come.

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Mini Persephone Readathon 1st – 3rd June 2018

Any excuse to pick up another Persephone is fine by me, and so I’ll be excited to take part in this little mini persephone readathon, hosted by the lovely Jessie over at DwellInPossibility  and it’s just a little laid back affair – my favourite kind of affair! – and just gives us a chance to read and chat all things Persephone!

Be sure to share your readathon experience and follow along with #PersephoneReadathon on social media as well.

And it is never easy to decide which book to pick up for these things, but I’ve gone for Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins.  I know very little about this book other than it’s based on a real life case, so I’m trying to avoid as many spoilers as I can and will just dive in and see how I get on with it – it has received rave reviews so that fills me with great hope!

When a handsome, unscrupulous fortune hunter approaches Harriet, a young woman of means whom most people would call half-witted, no good can result. Elizabeth Jenkins’s artistry, however, transforms the bare facts of this case from the annals of Victorian England’s Old Bailey into an absolutely spine-chilling exploration of the depths of human depravity.

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Have you read this book? Will you be taking part in the readathon? Look forward to seeing what everyone else picks up that weekend!!

Persephone Readathon update – Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon #bookreview

hello!! sorry for not sharing more of my Persephone readathon thoughts recently! I am beginning to find my blogging time is eating into my reading time! And that is never a good thing so I need to find a way round it and get the balance back in check!

But I’m back today with an update as I’ve just finished reading the first book in this months’ readathon, wonderfully hosted by the lovely Jessie at Dwell in Possibility, and what a book it has been! Taken it to bed every evening and it has kept me gripped from start to finish!

THE BLURB

Alex Selky, going on seven, kissed his mother goodbye and set off for school, a mere two blocks away. He never made it. Desperate to find him, his mother begins a vigil that lasts for days, then weeks, then months. She is treated first as a tragic figure, then as a grief-crazed hysteric, then as a reminder of the bad fortune that can befall us all. Against all hope, despite false leads and the desertions of her friends and allies she believes with all her heart that somehow, somewhere, Alex will be found alive.

Beth Gutcheon builds a heartrending suspense that culminates in a climax you will never forget.

MY REVIEW

This is a very modern offering from the Persephone publishers, having first been published in 1981, and that was what intrigued me into picking up this book! It reads very much as a modern thriller/mystery and feels much more relatable than some of their other titles and I think that is what made it such a tense and thrilling read.

It is the story of 6 year old Alex who disappears on his way to school one morning, and the anguish and torment that his family go through in the coming days and months of his disappearance. How could a little boy just vanish into thin air? His mother, Susan, torments herself daily as to his whereabouts and how she could have done things differently, and this book reveals how the not knowing tears apart his family, and the friendships around them.

As the days go by and the media frenzy begins to die down, Susan keeps pushing to keep the memory of Alex in the public eye but she is confronted with the absurdity of tv appearances, people making comments on how she’s keeping herself together and the judgements that people make about those involved in a high profile missing child case – very much like cases we’ve seen over recent years play out for real! Susan is a very determined character and doesn’t like to be told how to behave or accept how others see things which can come across as being quite obtuse and difficult at times.

I loved the way the book is written – the way it delves into the human reaction to such ordeals, looks at the families involved in cases like these who are just expected to carry on as normal after a while when the police find no leads etc. The book does take a very weird twist quite a way in to the story which I wasn’t expecting which does add to the drama and talking points of this book and made for an enthralling read.

This book has been made into a film – Without A Trace – so I will be interested to see that and watch this story bought to life and I highly recommend picking up this book if you are looking for a Persephone with a very modern feeling.

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So, now on to my next read of the Persephone Readathon and that is the gardening book Gardeners’ Choice by Evelyn Dunbar, so am looking forward to a slice of non-fiction and dreaming of the garden plants I’d like to add to my ‘want’ list!!

Persephone Readathon Day 2; Photogenic Persephones

The topic for Day 2 of this Persephone Readathon Blog Topics is PHOTOGENIC PERSEPHONES!  Thought I’d share my current Persephone reading pile alongside my little Persephone bookshelf which needs to be found a new home as it has outgrown the small bookcase I had them on!

My current reads are Gardeners’ Choice by Evelyn Dunbar and Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon.

And this is my little shelf which my collection has already outgrown!  Just need to figure out where I can fit another bookcase around the house to ‘home’ them all! I could stop adding to the collection, but where’s the fun in that??!!!


 

Persephone Readathon; Day 1 – First Impressions

February has arrived!! And that means I’ve gone all things PERSEPHONE!!   My thanks again to the lovely Jessie at Dwell In Possibility Blog for setting this all up!  Hoping to add to my Persephone knowledge – somewhat limited at the moment! – over the next few days and I’m sure that will mean a little shopping spree at some time too!! And I will blame you Jessie!!

To help us along the way, Jessie has devised a few questions to add to the experience so I’m hoping to answer as many as I can along the way – and hopefully it won’t eat into too much reading time!  To see the list of daily challenges click here –  Daily Challenges

(Day 1) First Impressions Challenge: Tell us how you first discovered Persephone Books and/or the first Persephone book you read

 
 
I think the internet is to blame!! Isn’t it always!!  I’m sure I first saw a Persephone Book on BookTube/YouTube a couple of years ago and I was instantly seduced by the simple grey covers and those gorgeous endpapers and I knew I needed some of these books in my life!
 
I was then very lucky one day to be browsing in a local charity shop and spotted 2 Persephone grey covers so I just grabbed them without even taking any notice of the titles!! Those titles were Greenery Street by Denis Mackail and The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby.
 
 
And the first Persephone book I ever read was very recently and it was the gardening book Gardener’s Nightcap by Muriel Stuart  .  As a keen gardener it was the perfect book to pick up and I found it to be highly entertaining and informative!
 
 
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