Have you ever dreamt of opening your own bookshop? Where you would sell the rarest, most amazing books that you could ever find, and keep them jealously to give them a new life? I have. And every April 23rd I wish every clonal book section in your FNACs, HMVs, and the like would turn into a singular bookshop; where their self-published, thankfully-rescued-from-the-rejection-bin books would be sold. That shop of our dreams exists, it is called Persephone Books, and you will find it hidden at Lamb's Conduit Street, in London (UK); which happens to be the same street that hosts the best supermarket in London.
My first incursion into this little paradise turned to be quite long. I didn't want to get out of the shop unless I could bring all the books home. Behind all the pearl-gray covers, every book had an original endpaper, matching a bookmark designed specifically for it. The books cost £12each; £30 for three. And, as they state in their website:
Persephone prints mainly neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women. (...) The books are guaranteed to be readable, thought-provoking and impossible to forget.
Just saying. Amongst the wide range of themes, stories, authors and cute endpapers, I went for Emma Smith's The Far Cry. I don't remember the reason why I decided to give it a go. Maybe it was its 324-page thickness, or its protagonist Teresa, a teenage girl about to go around the world. Perhaps, because she was travelling to India and I wanted to know what it was like to visit that country in the 1930s -from the perspective of a young lady- and hopefully demystifying the vast misconceptions we still have nowadays about the country. Or maybe, it was this cute endpaper what finally conquered me.
Taken from Persephone's Website
I wouldn't like to spoil your future reading experience. But I must add that, if the outside is this nice, nicer is its interior. The Far Cry is worth reading just because Smith's narrative is sublime, very detailed and full of colour. A joy for your senses acquired through words. It will truly make you travel to India by sea, and discover the Indian cities with Teresa and Mr. Digby, the markets, the people, the flowers, the tropical humidity -which will softly wrap you.
Teresa is not only set apart from England physically, she experiences a psychological trip from childhood to maturity, from the known to the uncertain; and finally she achieves some pleasing independence. On a darker side, that liberating trip will turn into a prison for her sister Ruth; unable to get used to India and to an overprotecting husband. Despite the tragic events, the story ending remains open and looking at the future with optimism.
As a totally personal and subjective teaser, here is a collection of symbols which get relevant in the story. Their meaning is something you will have to interpret when you read the book :)