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Persephone Books, Good Evening, Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes by Mollie Panter-Downes

PREFACE BY GREGORY LESTAGE
240pp
ISBN 9780953478071

Persephone Book no 8

For fifty years Mollie Panter-Downes's name was associated with The New Yorker, for which she wrote a regular ‘Letter from London’ (Persephone book no. 111, London War Notes), book reviews and over thirty short stories; of the twenty-one in Good Evening, Mrs Craven, written between 1939 and 1944, only two had ever been reprinted – these very English stories have, until now, been unavailable to English readers.

Exploring most aspects of English domestic life during the war, they are about separation, sewing parties, fear, evacuees sent to the country, obsession with food and the social revolutions of wartime. In the Daily Mail Angela Huth called Good Evening, Mrs Craven ‘my especial find’ and Ruth Gorb in the Ham & High contrasted the humour of some of the stories with the desolation of others: ‘The mistress, unlike the wife, has to worry and mourn in secret for her man; a middle-aged spinster finds herself alone again when the camaraderie of the air-raids is over…'

The endpaper is ‘Coupons’, 1941, and it shows women’s clothes against a repeat of '66', the number of clothes coupons allowed a year during the war, with the number needed per item.

London based publisher Persephone Books reprints neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers. All of their128 books are intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully written and are chosen to appeal to busy people wanting titles that are neither too literary nor too commercial. They publish novels, short stories, diaries, memoirs and cookery books; each has an elegant grey jacket, a ‘fabric’ endpaper with matching bookmark, and a preface by writers such as Jilly Cooper, David Kynaston and Elaine Showalter. 



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