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I read it several years ago and enjoyed it very much. I would be wary of the comparisons to Mitford or Dodie Smith - I think that's setting up expectations which it doesn't quite meet. It's good in its own right, I think, but not great in the way that those books are.

I'd say it's much more likely to appeal to female readers than male. I think you would probably enjoy it, Karen.

Mrs. Pom

It is one of my favorite books. I keep checking amazon to see when she's publishing a new one. I'm glad to hear she has one coming out as she had one in pre-order status for a long time on Amazon, and then it disappeared. I think I will reread The Lost Art over Thanksgiving as a holiday treat.


I love this book and have read it more than once. I found a lot of faults in it but still enjoyed it and it's in a comfort reading pile. I agree that comparisons with Dodie Smith or Nancy Mitford are OTT.


PS I see I reviewed it
">here in 2006.


Oh rats, sorry to clutter up your comments. I don't see why that link wouldn't work but the review is there under Eva Rice.

Victoria Corby

Mmm, we read this for the book club and the general view was that it was a pleasant read but no more, definitely nowhere near Nancy Mitford or Dodie Smith. Very much a women's book, perhaps even a young woman's book - those in the group who could actually remember the 50s were less impressed than those who could.

Dark Puss

I haven't read it (nor heard of it) but I have read and enjoyed the two books you asked people to compare it against. Are they "women's books"? What makes a book gendered and why are they described as such? I never (I think, but I'm getting old) described any book I've read as a man's/boy's/women's/girl's/gay/lesbian etc. book and I'm always interested when other readers seem to have a very clear view on such things. I'd be interested in your views!


I wouldn't class the Mitford and Smith books as women's books.
Hard to summarise the book/gender issue, but perhaps I could compare a woman's book with, say, a shop which sells only women's clothes. There will be nothing there for the male buyer himself, though he may be shopping for some female person or for professional reasons (such as if he works in fashion journalism/costume design). A man might look in passing at the window display and perhaps admire it, but what the shop sells is not directly relevant to him so his interest is limited - slight or academic or peripheral.
As Victoria says the Eva Rice book is very much a woman's (or even a young woman's) book, then those likely to get the most from it - identify with the characters and situations, be the 'target' readership, if there is one, - will be women. Similarly, an adult might take a child to a performance given by a children's entertainer and the adult might enjoy it well enough, but it's the child's sense of humour, attention span, 'eye view of the world' to which the act is tailored.

Dark Puss

I can agree with your comment about a shop that sells women's clothes since I don't wear any, however I am still at a loss to understand what particular books might not be of interest to me as a man. What sort of characters or situations might I not identify with as a man?


Many thanks, Barbara, very illuminating! (Let's see if this link works: )


He could have interest and indeed empathy, but actually identifying with the female character or her situation might, by definition, be beyond a male reader.

Dark Puss

Agreed (with reservations), but then that's true for almost all the characters I read about in books!

I remain unconvinced but it appears to be such a clear issue to so many people that I'll not pursue it further. Thank you very much for trying to explain.


I really enjoyed it. The perfect book to read when the weather's awful and the cat's been sick. You know, when you need something that is light and amusing.

I would call it a woman's novel because the main point of the narrative is the romantic relationship between a man and a woman. It's not that men don't write about relationships, but they rarely have romance as the central issue and marriage as the goal of the narrative. If Dark Puss doesn't understand then perhaps it's easier to say it's from the same shelf as Mary Stewart's Touch Not The Cat, which I seem to recall he found a pointless sort of book (or at least the point did not compute with his masculine interests).


I thought it was reasonably enjoyable for a holiday read but certainly not in the same class as I Capture the Castle. It went straight into the charity shop bag.

Dark Puss

Hello Litlove thank you for your comment. I found Touch Not the Cat silly rather than pointless and I have no problem at all with romance as a central issue of human relationships in books I read. It's precisely your last point "his masculine interests" which I think I was trying to get at here; are we really so stereotypical? Perhaps so (I can't judge myself all that well) but if it is true then it is a huge source of disappointment to me to think that people might say "You won't want to read this book, you are a man."

I apologise to Cornflower for re-opening (replying anyway) after I had said "I'll not pursue it further."


My copy of The Lost Art has also ended up at the charity shop. I have, however, hung on to all my Victoria Claytons, and I would place Out of Love by her as very jolly nearly almost in the Mitford-Dodie class.

I have yet to see any man read a Persephone novel anywhere, and I do believe that certain genres of fiction appeal more to women than men. Not many women sit down to watch Top Gear, though; although I do remember chancing on a episode once where those collective brainboxes ran a liquidiser off a V8 engine, and into it they put meat still on the bone.......and of course I was laughing like a drain, or shrieking like a Mitford. You choose.

Dark Puss

I don't read Persephone for reasons unconnected with the type of books reprinted. I do read similar books and I know many other men who do. I know many women who watch Top Gear and read the magazine too.

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