Back to Work

Back to work this morning after a lovely week off. The tomatoes, basil & lettuce have been planted, the vegie garden mulched, the Christmas cake made & lots of reading, walking & playing with the cats has been done. A perfect holiday, in fact.

At one point last week, I had four books on the go, which is a lot, even for me. I reread Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers & then realised that it’s less than a year since I last reread it. I finished two other books that I’ll be reviewing later this week. And I’ve been dipping into Persephone no 100, The Persephone Book of Short Stories. This is a celebratory collection of short stories because one of  the specialties of Persephone Books is the short story collection. About a third of these stories have been published in short story collections in the Persephone collection, another third have featured in the Persephone Quarterly & Biannual & the rest are stories by authors not published by Persephone. The authors include Persephone favourites Dorothy Whipple, E M Delafield, Mollie Panter-Downes & Dorothy Canfield Fisher. The “new” authors include several who would be perfect for Persephone’s list in the future – Phyllis Bentley, Malachi Whitaker & Helen Hull (who is about to become a Persephone author when her book, Heat Lightning, is published next year).

Two of my favourite short stories are in the collection. Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter-Downes is the title story of the WWII short story collection that was one of Persephone’s early successes. I love this poignant story of a woman who is a mistress, not a wife. She has met her lover every Thursday night but when war breaks out & he’s posted overseas, she realises that she will have no right to be told if he’s wounded or killed. Roman Fever by Edith Wharton is a story of secrets & misunderstandings between two women who meet again after many years on a visit to Rome. It’s a beautifully subtle story with an ending that you will never forget. I’ve read it many times & I’m always moved by the last few lines.

I’ve bought several cookbooks lately & this lovely book about baking was one of them. I couldn’t wait to try a recipe so I chose the Marbled Chocolate Crumble Cake.

Whether it looks like the picture in the book will have to wait until morning tea time when I see if I followed Rachel’s directions properly or overdid the swirling! The recipe called for two bowls of cake batter, one plain & one chocolate. Spoonfuls of each mixture are placed in the tin & then it’s swirled together with a skewer to give a marbled effect when it’s cut. It’s so easy to give the mixture one more swirl but it looks alright from the outside. Fingers crossed!

8 thoughts on “Back to Work

  1. I too am looking forward to reading the Persephone 100 book of short stories. I thought it was an interesting comment that a third are written by American authors.

    I have read two Helen Hull books Heat Lightening and Morning Shows The Day and of the two I prefer the latter althought the Persephone release is still a good read.

    I just received the new 2013 Diary with the 100 end papers Nd just love it.



  2. I too am reading the short story collection and I totally agree about the Wharton story — brilliant. They are a slightly mixed bunch, I find, some better than others, but overall very enjoyable. Good luck with the cake! and how I envy you with a summer to look forward to just as we are heading into winter.


  3. I would be very happy to come over and test that cake for you… Rachel Allen's cooking shows air here once in a while and the recipes always look so good. (And I know from my own experience that swirling is hard! I'm always either thrilled or disappointed when I cut into a marble cake that I've made. I should just keep in mind that it still tastes good, no matter what. 🙂

    Happy baking and reading!


  4. The short stories are very good. Nicola Beauman has always published American authors but says they're harder to sell in the UK as they're usually unknown. Sometimes they're unknown in the US as well! I'm not buying the new Diary just because I have the last one & didn't want to sully it by writing in it! Ridiculous, I know. Good to know that you've enjoyed Helen Hull, I'm looking forward to reading Heat Lightning.


  5. I've enjoyed reading the stories that are new to me although a lot of them are familiar. The cake was good but I think next time I wouldn't use the crumble topping, it was a bit dry. I think chocolate icing would be better & maybe 5 mins less in the oven.


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