Review written by Julia Newhouse.
On a quiet street in London that looks like it was transported straight from the 1920s, lies the stunning Persephone book store. With a charming store front, beautiful handmade gifts and the impressive range of Persephone book titles on offer, this is the kind of book store where non-readers might just fall in love with the written word. I was thrilled to go in there and lay my hands on Persephone’s latest title, ‘Patience’ by John Coates. I had never heard of it, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I found was wit and humour wrapped up in a story about love, expectations, and religion.
Patience Gathorne-Galley has been married for seven years and has three children to show for it. Her life is pleasant enough: she has her allowance from her husband, confidence in the power of her church, and the habitual pat on the bottom from her husband as he comes in each night. What she doesn’t have is passion and excitement. These have given way to obligation, as she follows Catholic doctrine and submits to duty, finding a sort of contentment in doing what she has been told is right. This carefully balanced life is, however, thrown into turmoil when Patience finds out that her husband is stepping out on her, and that really she doesn’t mind that he is. Sex has always been a question of lying still and thinking of other things for Patience, so she is somewhat impressed by the idea that someone is having sex with her husband Edward when they don’t have to. But when she meets Philip, a friend of her brother-in-law’s, Patience’s life changes. She finally discovers why everyone seems so enraptured with the act of making love, and is angered by the idea that Edward has been sleeping with her for seven years, without any thought as to her enjoyment.
Written with charm, wit and insight into life, ‘Patience,’ is a gorgeous book. If you are looking for a good read, and a bit of a chuckle, this is a book that must make its way onto your to read list. And, if you are looking for beautiful classy books, particularly as a gift, don’t overlook Persephone with their charming grey covers and specially chosen endpapers. They publish quality titles, that are finished well, and include such classics as ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’, ‘Miss Buncle’s Book’, and ‘Around About a Pound a Week’. I cannot wait to see which title Persephone gives a new lease of life to next.