Top Ten Tuesday- Virago and Persephone Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish blog.

TTT is taking a well-deserved break until August 15th, so I will be making my own lists- or recycling old topics from before I had this blog- during the hiatus.

For this week’s topic, I decided to feature my Top Ten Virago and Persephone Books.

Persephone

Persephone Books is a London-based publisher and bookseller that “reprints neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers.” I haven’t read as many Persephone books as I’d like, but my wish list is super long!

 

 

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1. Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day by Winifred Watson

The film adaptation of Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day is one of my favorite comfort watches of all time. It never fails to cheer me up. I must admit that I like the book version a little bit less. However, this, the most popular of Persephone’s titles, is still a favorite of mine. It’s the perfect feel-good Cinderella story. I love the cover and the charming illustrations throughout as well.

 

 

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2. Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson

This story of an anonymous author who writes a successful book about the lives of her neighbors in a small English village, had me laughing out loud. The humor is perfectly understated and Miss Buncle and her neighbors felt like well-known friends. I need to read the sequels asap.

 

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3. Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield

This hilarious epistolary novel also had me laughing out loud. Written in the form of a 1930’s diary, E.M. Delafield’s novel features the everyday exploits of a wife/mother/lady/ author living in the English countryside. Trust me when I say this book makes even flower bulbs funny. Apparently Diary of a Provincial Lady even served as inspiration for Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary!

 

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4. The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I really enjoyed reading a book by Frances Hodgson Burnett that was written for adults. This is also a Cinderella story of an impoverished “spinster” who marries a Marquis. The Making of a Marchioness is a little over-the-top and melodramatic, but it’s still a delightful read.

 

Virago

Established in 1973, Virago is an “international publisher of books by women for all readers, everywhere.” For this list I’m including only Virago Modern Classics.

 

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1. South Riding by Winifred Holtby

Holtby’s masterpiece of a novel offers a complex view of life in 1930’s Yorkshire. South Riding is full of social and political commentary blended with dynamic characters and a bittersweet love story. I adore the character Sarah Burton- a modern, intelligent, feminist headmistress at an all-girls school. The BBC miniseries is phenomenal as well.

 

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2. Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons

This book is a charming and frothy delight. While it’s not quite as hilarious as Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm, it’s full of funny moments and quirky characters. Nightingale Wood is another 1930’s gem that is perfect when you need a cheerful read.

 

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3. Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann

This was my first Rosamond Lehman book, and I now consider her one of my favorite writers. Invitation to the Waltz is the perfect coming-of-age novel, in which protagonist Olivia Curtis gets ready for, and attends her first dance. Lehman’s prose is beautiful and her insight into teenage girlhood is absolutely spot on. I also loved the followup novel, The Weather in the Streets, and plan to reread both books again and again.

 

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4. Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym

This deceptively simple 1950’s novel is, in my opinion, quietly brilliant. Barbara Pym has a sharp wit and a keen eye for the details of everyday life. Her dialogue is perfection, and her characters are loveably flawed. I’m embarrassed to say that this is the only Pym novel I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be my last!

 

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5. Wild Strawberries by Angela Thirkell

Wild Strawberries was my first of many Thirkell novels. I still consider it one of my two favorites as well. I loved the summer setting, the somewhat wacky cast of characters, the understated comedy, and the little bit of romance. This is an utterly charming read that I look forward to rereading in the future.

 

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6. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

Elaine Dundy’s 1950’s novel reads almost like an Audrey Hepburn romantic comedy. Perhaps a little ahead of it’s time, The Dud Avocado recounts the adventures and misadventures of a young American woman living abroad in Paris. With a little bit of farce, a dash of romance, heaps of glamour, a smidgeon of suspense, and a whole lot of humor, this is such a fun and unique book.

 

What are some of your favorite Persephone and Virago books?

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14 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday- Virago and Persephone Books

Add yours

  1. I love Persephone books! Too bad I can’t afford to buy them as often as I’d like to. 😦 Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is the first Persephone I read. I loved it and some of my other favorites are Little Boy Lost, The Exiles Return, The Mystery of Mrs Blencarrow & Queen Eleanor and Fair Rosamond, and The Persephone Book of Short Stories.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve heard such good things about Barbara Pym’s books – I’ll have to check one out. I just read an Angela Thirkell last month and it was so good! I also just bought a copy of A Diary of a Provincial Lady for my birthday – not the Persephone edition – and can’t wait to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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