I can't remember where I first came across Persephone Books. Someone else's blog no doubt. Every so often I go to the website and look through the books and the beautiful end covers and think about buying one. Or two. Or a whole stack.
And then, in about mid October, my thoughts turned, as they do every year, to next year's diary. Even in the midst of iphones and google calendars I am the girl who uses a Smythson address book and spends aeons deciding on the perfect diary every year. I might also be the girl who splurged her first post university paycheck on a box of Smythson stationery and was over the moon when I won a box of Hello Lucky letterpressed personalised note cards last year.
Every year I start looking for the perfect diary, trying to balance out beauty vs practicality vs expense. I can never quite justify the Smythson offerings, beautiful though they are. The address book, whilst a present, also lasts year on year. Even though I keep all my old diaries in a box, it still is only for the year. It's days are numbered from the moment it is opened.
Last year, to celebrate my first proper grown up qualified job, I bought one from Liberty (only it was a bit smaller). It is stunning and came it a lovely box (nearly as important as the book itself) and the turquoise embossed leather cover cheers me up every time I open it. But the pleasure stops there. The paper is a disappointment. I write in fountain pen and it shows through to the other side. It also has a page to a day. Which would have been fine in London. But I live in the country now. I know which days I go dancing and which days I collect M from the station. My appointments I need to remember are fewer and further between these days. The lack of pleasure in writing on the paper and the disappointment of all those days with nothing to note meant, sadly, I needed a different option.
So, I was so pleased when I realised that Persephone made a diary. With endpapers from all their books as the opposite pages to all the weeks. And with the first line of each book on the page. And each endpaper being a vintage fabric from the same year as the book was published. And all for £10. I ordered one and waited for it to arrive. And it arrived bent. With a creased cover. With shiny pages that I cannot write on with fountain pen. But beautiful nonetheless.
If you live in London and can visit their shop and you write in pencil or biro - go and get one. You will not be disappointed.
You may well be disappointed by the shop itself if this e-mail interchange is anything to go by:
Peacockfeathers: Thank you for my diary which I received on Saturday. I was pleased to receive it but very disappointed at the condition in which it arrived. Luckily, I purchased it for my own use and it doesn't overly matter that it is bent and has a crease in the back cover but had I bought it as a gift, I would have been unable to use it. Also, whilst I think the diary contents are beautiful, I usually write with a fountain pen which would be impossible in this diary as the pages are shiny. I had thought about adding a book or two to my order but I will think twice about mail order now. Such a shame because the books are lovely.
PersephoneBooks: Hi - so sorry you do not like the diary. We did it in flexibinding because we did not want the diary to fall to bits, but we are very disappointed that you do not like it. Do put it in the envelope, write 'return to sender' and return it, and I'll refund the money. Apologies again.
Peacockfeathers: Thank you for your e-mail. I am not sure whether you actually read my first e-mail.I at no point said that I did not like the diary. I was merely pointing out that the packaging was insufficient and it arrived bent and creased, which was a disappointment. I was pointing this out to you to allow you to do something for future orders so others were not similarly damaged. I was also commenting on the paper choice to give constructive feedback for future editions.
PersephoneBooks: Dear Rachel Lastname, oh dear, I was only trying to be helpful! Thank you very much for your advice, for which we are indeed extremely grateful and yes we will try to improve our packaging and our paper.
Maybe I am being extraordinarily sensitive and my e-mails were too rude or abrupt but I felt extremely patronised by Persephone Books. I'll let you guys decide whether you think it's worth it for the diary.
Photos 'borrowed' from Persephone Books website.