Which Persephone Was Wrapped in Pink Tissue, Bellezza?

Remember this package? The one I showed next to Lidia’s Italy the day that Persephone Week began? It’s time to reveal the contents…

Several people had guesses. Claire of kiss a cloud thought perhaps it was Family Roundabout, while Claire of Paperback Reader thought it might be Little Boy Lost. Worthy choices, dear readers, but…

it’s How To Run Your Home Without Help. Because, as much as Mother’s Day is about flowers and brunch, cards and gifts, it’s also about scrubbing the bathroom, getting one’s family’s towels white, and preparing meals which are nutritionally sound as well as pleasing to the palate.

I love the pictures and advice in this book. From diagrams, clearly labelled…

to chapters entitled “Doing The Washing”…

the “lady of the house” can find advice on any subject for which she may require help. My personal favorite ties in to Greenery Street (which I was hoping to finish tonight but chances are slim…)  It’s titled Keeping Household Accounts and Budgeting.

Consider dear Felicity, in Greenery Street, at the beginning of Chapter Four:

Felicity Foster sat at her writing-table in the white-walled drawing-room of her new house, utterly absorbed in her still newer account-book. The French windows were open, and the pulsations from the traffic in the main road-a couple of hundred yards away-came drifting in with soothing irregularity…and now we’d better go back to where we were before.

Felicity’s accounts. Oh, yes; of course. Possibly you have heard of Double Entry, but-like Mr Duke’s ‘usual forms’-Felicity’s accounts were one better than that, and were entered in triplicate. One set was kept on the counterfoils of her new and still rather alarming cheque-book; one in her diary, where the hour of a luncheon or dinner engagement had more than once become entangled with the daily expenditure; and the third set was in her pass-book, and therefore more or less out of her control. Naturally enough, none of these different records agreed, but as Felicity could never understand the pass-book she was principally concerned with reconciling the other two. This she achieved by the very equitable method of altering each of the in turn so to adjust it to the other; and though she was conscious that this system led to occasional inaccuracies, the main thing was-of course-to be keeping accounts at all. (p. 61)

Isn’t that a charming vignette? Can’t you see the tolerance the author shows of Felicity’s bumbling efforts as a new wife? Greenery Street has got to be one of the most delightful books I’ve read, and How To Run Your Home Without Help? Something that perhaps both Felicity and I could use from time to time.

19 thoughts on “Which Persephone Was Wrapped in Pink Tissue, Bellezza?”

  1. A lovely gift for you, and a chuckle for me. Perhaps I've done Felicity one better. I confess to a time in my life when my chosen method for balancing my checkbook was to change banks!It's ever so easy. You open a new account in a new institution, leave a reasonable amount in the old and wait for things to work themselves out. Silly accountants, thinking addition and subtraction are the only path to financial certainty!


  2. The book looks beautiful (like any Persephone?)I think I could use some advise on my household, since honestly I think my boyfriend does a much better job than I do currently, and what better excuse than this lovely looking book?


  3. I love these sorts of books – 19th century household guides, partly because they make me laugh and they're a great historical insight into their society and things that aren't covered in 19th century fiction. I want to get myself a copy of Mrs Beaton. I imagine this will what the generation in a hundred years time will react when they read our magazines and hints of today.


  4. It would be hard for me not to squeal in delight if I received a Persephone (I've never had the pleasure to read one or even hold one in my hands) in bright pink wrap!


  5. Happy belated mothers day to you, Bellezza. This is such a gorgeous book and so nicely wrapped, too! One of these days I'll need to check out Persephone books; they sound like such a delight.


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