I think these two were my first try at Persephone Books – no, that’s not right.  I read The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher a while back.  I realized recently that another library in my county owns most of the Persephone books, if not all, so I’m slowly working my way through them.  So far the experiment is a success – I’ve liked all three.
Good Evening, Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Donnes (Persephone Classics)Good Evening, Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Donnes by Mollie Panter-Downes

I have a complicated relationship with short stories, mostly because I’m the kind of reader who prefers a continuous narrative, where I get to know characters and stick with them over a few hundred pages. Sometimes short stories leave me wanting more, even when they’re perfect little gems and just as long as they needed to be. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel like anything was missing here.

The stories felt like snap-shots in the best way, and perhaps I was also pleasantly distracted by thinking about how Mollie Panter-Downes was writing about life in Britain during the war as it was happening around her. There’s a sense of immediacy and detail that you don’t necessary get from historical fiction, where the author knows the outcome even though the characters don’t. Even though the focus here is often on more domestic, everyday situations, they are often situations created by the war, and the characters feel the uncertainty of how long it will go on.

Definitely recommended to anyone who enjoys feeling immersed in a different time and to readers who love character-driven stories. And did I mention that there’s a wonderful humor to many of the stories?

Source: my library system

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MarianaMariana by Monica Dickens

Here, the story of a girl growing up is book-ended by World War II. We meet her as she waits for news of her husband, then follow her through her girlhood and the beginning of adulthood, until we meet her back where we began. There’s not much in the way of action, but this never stops the story from being fascinating. Mary is not always likable but somehow she manages to be sympathetic the whole way through. The characters are wonderfully drawn and the book never takes itself too seriously, make for a solid, leisurely read. This is the kind of book that doesn’t demand to be read, but once you pick it up, it’s easy to get stuck in its world.

Source: my library system.

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