Wednesday, February 24, 2021

COMING SOON: Nine new Furrowed Middlebrow books from Dean Street Press, available June 2021!

My two favorite times of year are the times I finally get to reveal, after months of excitement on my part, the next set of Furrowed Middlebrow titles from Dean Street Press. It so happens that that time has arrived again!

When I mentioned an upcoming announcement a few weeks ago, I said the new titles would be coming in August. But work has progressed so well that Rupert at DSP has decided the rollout should be in June instead. So even less time to wait than expected, and we already have the covers ready to show you, something we don't usually have finished at announcement time.

My teaser had mentioned that we would be publishing nine titles in all by two different authors, both being reprinted by us for the first time. It's actually one book by the first author, whom many of you will know from a Persephone reprint of a wonderful earlier novel, and eight books by the second, which are so vanishingly rare in their original editions that I'm amazed and grateful to have been able to get hold of them at all.

I had failed to mention that we're very much in Scottish mode for this batch!

Ready or not...

First off, one of my all-time favorite discoveries as a blogger. How
RUBY FERGUSON's glorious, hilarious Scottish holiday novel Apricot Sky has not been reprinted ages ago is beyond me, and yet I'm also rather glad as now we get to do it ourselves. I first read and loved Apricot Sky way back before I started blogging, but re-read it and reviewed it here in 2019. It's a perfect escape from worldly cares and ideal for anyone dreaming of a holiday in Scotland with the most charming and funny companions imaginable.

We've adapted the original cover for our new edition.

Second, if you've been reading my blog for a while, you must have already guessed that the author whose books are vanishingly rare (but won't be after June) is none other than MOLLY CLAVERING, currently best-known as the close friend and neighbour of D. E. Stevenson for many years, but soon to be known as a brilliant and delightful storyteller in her own right. 

We're publishing an excellent cross-section of both her early and later works in this batch, including her four novels from the 1930s (originally published under the pseudonym B. Mollett) and four of her later novels from the 1950s. The latter include Mrs Lorimer's Quiet Summer, her best-known book thanks to it's being reprinted in the U.S. by the People's Book Club under the title Mrs Lorimer's Family, and Near Neighbours, first rediscovered and reprinted by the fabulous Greyladies Books in 2015. The former are a striking intro to Clavering's early work, with earthy humour, rural Scottish settings, and wonderful descriptions of the countryside and village life in the 1930s. While she will inevitably be compared to D. E. Stevenson, the earlier novels in particular show her to have very much her own style and sense of (slightly rowdy and solidly down-to-earth) humour.

Original dustjackets for Clavering's books are hard to find (and not always the most enticing), but we have adapted the original cover of Near Neighbours for our new edition.

I owe a debt of gratitude to several people for fueling and enabling what has been a multi-year obsession with tracking down Clavering's work. Clavering's cousin Michael Stewart started me off by providing loads of information about her books, which I consolidated into a post here. The tireless Jerri Chase provided me with information about the 1950s novels as well as photos of dustjackets. Shirley at Greyladies stoked the flames by blazing a trail to do the first reprint of a Molly Clavering title in over 50 years. And, in particular, I have to thank Grant Hurlock (as I have many times before) for making it possible for me to read most of these books. He went above and beyond all his previous achievements in getting hold of them, and their reprinting wouldn't have happened without him.

Hope you're as excited about these new titles as I am!

Monday, February 15, 2021

Exciting news: Frances Faviell on BBC1!

I know I seem to be in the midst of another (or a continuing) blog break at the moment. Life remains a bit crazy, but I do hope to be back more regularly in March.

In the meantime, however, Rupert at Dean Street Press has just considerably brightened my holiday weekend (President's Day in the U.S., and a much-needed extra day off) with the news that one of the authors I am proudest of our having published as a Furrowed Middlebrow book will be featured in prime time on BBC1 next week.

Lucy Worsley's latest documentary, Blitz Spirit, will air on Tuesday, February 23 at 20:30 (see here for the BBC page about it). I'm pleased as punch about this, as Faviell's brilliant memoir A Chelsea Concerto has never got a tenth of the attention it deserves, though the ironic kicker is that I don't think I'll be able to watch it myself, at least not immediately! Grrrrr. (If any of you have any secrets as to watching BBC1 from the U.S., do let me know!)

Still, I couldn't be happier that Faviell is getting some just deserts! (I always have to stop and think how to spell that word, since there's a bakery in SF called Just Desserts...). Faviell will be one of six people profiled, all of whom lived and worked in London during the Blitz.

Do watch the documentary, which is bound to be fascinating, and do tell your friends and neighbours about it. And, of course, about the book!

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