I thought it would be fun to offer an optional readalong during this Persephone Readathon. Would you like to read and discuss the same Persephone book together over the course of the ten days?
I want this to be open to anyone who’d like to participate, so I’ve selected four Persephone titles that are available as free eBooks for you all to choose from. Take a look at their descriptions below, and vote for the one you would most like to read (or even just see the rest of us read) through the link at the bottom of the page.
I’ll leave the link for round one active until Sunday, May 19th. Whichever two books receive the most votes will then go head to head in the final voting round.
Clicking on the titles will take you to Persephone’s entry for each book, where you can find their description, reviews, blog entries, and a link to the eBooks.
- William- An Englishman by Cicely Hamilton (~226 pages)
William was ‘written in a rage in 1918; this extraordinary novel… is a passionate assertion of the futility of war’ (the Spectator). Its author had been an actress and suffragette; after 1914 she worked at the Scottish Women’s Hospital at Royaumont and organised Concerts at the Front. William – an Englishman was written in a tent within sound of guns and shells; this ‘stunning… terrifically good’ novel (Radio 4’s A Good Read) is in one sense a very personal book, animated by fury and cynicism, and in another a detached one; yet is always ‘profoundly moving’ (Financial Times).
In the view of Persephone Books, William is one of the greatest novels about war ever written: not the war of the fighting soldier or the woman waiting at home, but the war encountered by Mr and Mrs Everyman, wrenched away from their comfortable preoccupations – Socialism, Suffragettism, so gently mocked by Cicely Hamilton – and forced to be part of an almost dream-like horror (because they cannot at first believe what is happening to them). The scene when William and Griselda emerge after three idyllic weeks in a honeymoon cottage in the remote hills of the Belgian Ardennes, and encounter German brutality in a small village, is unforgettable. The book, which won the Prix Femina-Vie Heureuse in 1919, is a masterpiece, written with an immediacy and a grim realism reminiscent of an old-fashioned, flickering newsreel.
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.
The year is 1911.
Mill-worker Jenny Clegg has grown up in a world where women are second-class citizens to the men they look after. She works all day to provide for her family, but can only look on helplessly as all of her mother’s savings and possessions are wasted by her cruel father.
Her life seems to be heading the same way – even the man she admires from afar believes women only belong in the home, leading her to question if she could ever love someone so against her own sex.
However, a chance encounter with one Mary O’Neil, the young daughter of an aristocrat, changes Jenny’s life for good, and opens up her world to radical political activism. Soon she realises that she holds the potential power to make a real difference…
Set across multiple landscapes and featuring women of all classes, Constance Maud’s No Surrender is a powerful and hugely enjoyable narrative based on some of the true, harrowing events surrounding the fight of the Suffragettes.
From accounts of marches and protests to troubling descriptions of force-feeding in prisons, Constance Maud’s narrative captures the spirit of the Suffrage movement, and offers an exciting glimpse into the thoughts and determination of the women of the day.
Oscar Wilde wrote of this novel, “Its directness, its uncompromising truths, its depth of feeling, and above all, its absence of any single superfluous word, make Reuben Sachs, in some sort, a classic.” Reuben Sachs, the story of an extended Anglo-Jewish family in London, focuses on the relationship between two cousins, Reuben Sachs and Judith Quixano, and the tensions between their Jewish identities and English society. The novel’s complex and sometimes satirical portrait of Anglo-Jewish life, which was in part a reaction to George Eliot’s romanticized view of Victorian Jews in Daniel Deronda, caused controversy on its first publication.
Again, you have until the end of Sunday, May 19th to vote in this first round.
Let me know if you’re interested in participating, and don’t forget to vote!