Today begins Persephone Reading Week being hosted by Verity at The B Files and Claire at Paperback Reader. I am afraid I must kick-off my celebration of Persephone Reading Week with a stern warning to this niche publisher.
Dear Persephone Books:
Dorothy Whipple wrote 18 books. You have only reissued 6 of them. To those of us who have read even some of Mrs. Whipple’s work, I think it is safe to say that we are unwilling to countenance this unacceptable situation. It shouldn’t be too difficult for all of the good folks at Persephone to sit down and work out a schedule for the timely reissuance of the rest of Whipple’s oeuvre.
Whether intended or not, by reintroducing the discerning reading public to the wonders of Dorothy Whipple, Persephone has entered into a serious commitment akin to the sacred covenant between God and her chosen people. Well, you have made us believers, now please don’t leave us in the desert for forty years. Some of us, and perhaps the printed publishing world itself, may not last that long. And I doubt that a Whipple would smell as good on a Kindle as it does in a Persephone paperback.
Believe me to be, very truly yours,
Thomas at My Porch
Seriously folks, Whipples aren’t easy to find this side of the Atlantic, and I don’t want to run out once I finish the six that have been reissued so far. Perhaps I have already read the only two decent books Whipple ever wrote. But I kind of doubt that. First with The Priory and now with High Wages I am totally smitten with Whipple and would love to sit down and read them all in one sitting.
Unfortunately, I absolutely hate trying to synopsize book plots in my amateur reviews. I just don’t have the patience to try and condense the action of a book in a way that won’t put you all to sleep. I read other bloggers’ plot summaries and am amazed at their skill in doing so. It is rare that I can pull it off, so I am not going to try too hard…High Wages is about Jane Carter, an 18-year old Lancashire woman who manages to secure herself a bit of freedom by snagging a job in a drapers’ (fabric) shop thus enabling her to move out of her stepmother’s house. The action begins in 1912 so you can imagine the limitations on employment and advancement available to Jane. But advance she does. She soon becomes indispensible to her employer and a favorite of customers and co-workers alike. Over time she chafes at being kept in her low-wage position and manages to open her own shop—much to the chagrin of her former employer. Whipple expertly sets this tale in the context of the social transitions of the times and changes in the world of ladies garments as custom clothing began to give way to ready-to-wear.
I loved this book for its subject, setting, and prose style. It is a true “coming into her own” kind of story that I really didn’t want to end. I can’t wait to read the remaining four Persephone Whipples.