'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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February 24, 2011

The page I'm reading now, Persephone Reading Weekend edition...




      The china closet, which opened off the back parlour, was about seven foot square, and was fitted with shelves all around. In 1843, the shelves were removed and a window was put in, the only southern window in the house; in 1855 Jane bought a chiffonier to give this little room a handsome appearance. It was in this closet that, ten years later, a servant called Mary gave birth to an illegitimate child. How she came to be there is not known, but 'while she was in labour in the small room at the end of the dining-room,' wrote Jane, 'Mr. Carlyle was taking tea in the dining-room with Miss Jewsbury talking to him!!! Just a thin, small door between!' Miss Jewsbury took her leave, Mr. Carlyle went upstairs to read (Jane was away), and at two in the morning the new-born infant was smuggled out of the house wrapped in Mrs. Carlyle's best table napkins.
      Meanwhile, in 1834, the china closet was used for storing china.
from The Carlyles at Home, by Thea Holme {Persephone no. 32}

I've been glad to know that I'm not the only one who has dipped into her Persephones before the official start of Persephone Reading Weekend, because I'm still not sure whether I'll be home this weekend to read, but mostly because my two books -- Kitchen Essays, by Agnes Jekyll (no. 30) and this one -- once opened, just to see what they'll be like, are very hard to resist.

{The Back Dining Room, by Helen Allingham, painted in 1881 and hanging on the staircase at Carlyle's House, Chelsea (The National Trust).}

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6 comments:

Paperback Reader said...

I find myself often falling into Persephones when all I meant to do was peak.

Lovely quote.

Cristina (Rochester Reader) said...

Quite an atmospheric painting and an amusing and touching quote. I hope to read this later in the year so I look forward to your review.

Vintage Reading said...

I'm intrigued by that extract. Look forward to your review. Must get to the Persephone shop this year.

Karenlibrarian said...

I just checked this out from my library -- I've found it's a little easier to find some of the Persephone nonfiction at the libraries here in the States. And this book was used as a reference by Bill Bryson in his latest, At Home: A Short History of Private Life. He did mention the incident with the maid. It looks like a great book.

Vivienne said...

I definitely peaked early. I finished my book yesterday. Now hoping to read Miss Pettigrew!

ramblingfancy said...

Gorgeous painting! This is one I've yet to read so look forward to your thoughts when you've finished it. Really want to visit the house!

Thank you for visiting!

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