On the next road over from Emerald Street, you’ll find Persephone Books – a bookshop owned by the publishing imprint. Inside there are low velvet chairs, shelves and shelves of books with Persephone’s distinctive grey and cream covers and a table full of books that they wish they’d published. The publishing house was established with a gently feminist manifesto: they put out titles by female authors, often from the early part of the 20th century, many of whom would otherwise have been forgotten.
This collection of short stories is their 100th release, and it features 30 tales from both famous (Dorothy Parker, Edith Wharton) and lesser-known women writers. They’re arranged chronologically from when they were written, ranging from 1909 to 1986. And while it may be tempting to jump straight in and read the contribution from your favourite writer, the book is at its most interesting when read straight through, allowing as it does for you to see how people’s lives have changed through the 20th century. The constants are just as interesting as the differences: husbands, children, lovers and friends crop up again and again.
This is a wonderful collection, full of wit and warmth, and perfect for reading in snacking sessions around the rest of your life, when you can revel in the often-hectic lives of generations of women.