‘Thinness’: Metaphysics, Religion and Magic in Ruby Ferguson’s ‘Apricot Sky’

Published on: 20th July 2021

There is a term used to describe such places as the island of Iona, off Mull, on the West Coast of Scotland, where the transcendent and material worlds come so close they are barely separate; the word is ‘thin’. Anyone who has visited such a place will have felt it. It is both holy and magical, tug against one another though those discrete metaphysics, religion and magic, may seem to.  …

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Camp Chaos, Stylishly Superlative – A Review of Emily Mortimer’s ‘The Pursuit of Love’

Published on: 21st May 2021

‘Diana the Fascist, Jessica the Communist, Unity the Hitler-lover; Nancy the Novelist; Deborah the Duchess and Pamela the unobtrusive poultry connoisseur’ – so runs journalist Ben Macintyre’s attempt to anatomize the baffling and at times grotesque world of the Mitford sisters, memorialized in Nancy’s 1945 semi-autobiographical novel. The novel bequeaths an awkward and often shocking legacy, detailing a world of aristocratic privilege in parodic proportions: ‘a world of superlatives,’ to quote the narrator of Emily Mortimer’s new BBC adaptation, of a ‘chaos and confusion’ which it is (rightfully) challenging to reckon with. …

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Not So Cosy After All: Anne Morice’s Cosy Mysteries

Published on: 24th April 2021

An amateur sleuth, usually a woman; a quirky supporting cast; a small, tight-knit community; and a typically gore-less murder – the ‘cosy mystery’ is a genre with a long history (think Miss Marple), which had its particular heyday in the ’70s and ’80s. But this staple of crime fiction has had yet another renaissance in the past few years, with publishers recognising its enduring popularity. Re-printed novels are increasingly making their way onto publishers’ catalogues alongside new work by contemporary authors, and Dean Street Press’s recent re-publication of Anne Morice’s Tessa Crichton series is no exception; for the moment, at least,…

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Blitz Spirit with Lucy Worsley: a Timely Revision of Britain in Crisis

Published on: 25th February 2021

During WWII, German planes dropped 32,000 tonnes of bombs on British cities, an eighth-month-long assault known as the Blitz. It is a period well known to us – not only familiar ground in most school history lessons but recent enough that many who experienced it are still alive today. And yet, how much of what we ‘know’ is true? This is the question that Lucy Worsley sets out to answer in Blitz Spirit, a documentary that peels back the myth of the unshakeable British morale. …

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Comfort For The New Year?

Published on: 11th January 2021

This New Year feels different to most; the passing of time was not marked with its usual, glorious bang, but rather quietly celebrated from the sofas of homes across the world. Many of us find ourselves in the same circumstances as we have been for the last ten months, and it can be hard to reconcile this feeling of stasis with the welcome notion of a fresh start. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel – and in the meantime, the combined factors of cold weather and lockdown measures make it the perfect time to curl up with a book. The latest Furrowed Middlebrow titles, a collection of novels by Stella Gibbons and Margery Sharp, offer wonderfully astute observations of character…

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CHRISTMAS with AGATHA CHRISTIE

Published on: 8th December 2020

Nothing makes for a cozier Christmas evening than snuggling in front of the fire (festive lights twinkling, mulled wine at hand) and reading of the grisly murder of a 1930s socialite. Or so says fashion historian and YouTube presenter Prof. Amanda Hallay, whose Holiday Special on her Ultimate Fashion History channel for 2020 is “Christmas with Agatha Christie: The Ultimate Guide”.  Inspired by Dame Agatha’s childhood, her books and stories set over the holidays, and the movie and TV adaptations with a festive feel, Prof. Hallay offers up Christie-themed recipes, gift ideas, fashion, viewing recommendations, etc,.all of it drawn from Christie’s life and her…

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“I dreamed I went to Manderley... again”

Published on: 28th October 2020

With the 1997 British miniseries based upon Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 Neo-Gothic novel Rebecca, the world wondered why it needed a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 classic. As near to perfect a movie of its genre can get, Hitchcock’s version saw Laurence Olivier gleefully chewing the scenery as mysterious Maxim de Winter (a perfect partner to Joan Fontaine as his sweet and simpering second wife), with Judith Anderson playing the role of dastardly Mrs. Danvers with delight. Nominated for a whopping eleven Academy Awards (and winning two, for Best Picture and Best Cinematography), was there a point to retelling a story which – considering the position that…

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‘Never fall in love with a house!’

Published on: 15th August 2020

In times of crisis, dreams flourish to keep the spirits fired. So, during the years of World War II. In A House in the Country, four men and two women, tired of blackouts, powdered eggs and cramped air raid shelters, fantasise about moving out of London to a baronial manor house “with acres and acres of gardens” and its own river. “This is a cautionary tale and true,” writes Ruth Adam who based the novel, published in 1957, on her own post-war experience of living communally with several other families. “Never fall in love with a house.” …

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Such is Life: In defence of happy endings

Published on: 23rd June 2020

A common, and usually critical, stereotype of middlebrow fiction is its tendency for happy endings. In the quintessential mid-century middlebrow novel, conflicts are neatly resolved (often with a marriage or reconciliation), leaving the world of the text pleasantly at peace. Critiques of middlebrow culture, such as Dwight Macdonald’s damning “Masscult and Midcult” (1960), complain that “magically resolving” conflict only creates a representational gulf between fiction and messy reality. Indeed, Virginia Woolf famously took issue with the ‘lie’ of middlebrow writing in a letter she wrote – but never posted – to the New Statesman in 1932.…

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The Splendid, The Vile, and The Lockdown

Published on: 26th May 2020

Difficult as it is to think of World War II as anything other than vile, Erik Larson, in his new historical biography The Splendid and the Vile, wonderfully reminds us that even in the most dire of situations, splendid acts of courage, leadership and national unity will eventually lead to victory. As the detailed, nonfiction narrative of Churchill’s first year in office unfolds, we have an unexpected insight into the complex family, life and relationships of perhaps one of Britain’s most notorious prime ministers, as he navigates the utter devastation of the Blitz with a fearless leadership that laid the foundation for his legacy. …

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Do Not Keep Calm and Carry On

Published on: 16th April 2020

We are living in difficult times. In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, our everyday lives have been unimaginably disrupted. Over the last few weeks, comparisons between our current situation and that of those living through the Blitz have floated around the media. Understandably, this parallel can sometimes seem reductive. “Blitz Spirit” — though intended as inspirational shorthand for the way people manage during times of crisis — has often been condensed into a convenient myth of universal stoicism and good cheer. Wartime propaganda has bolstered this myth, with the well-known order to Keep Calm and Carry On despite the circumstances giving an impression…

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Veronica: The Lady and the Lake

Published on: 16th March 2020

Veronica Lake, movie star, was a tiny but luminous beacon of sexiness and sass who shined bright and cool during the dark days of World War II. Barely out of her teens, she became an icon of mid-20th century America. Women emulated her spunk and style and that famous come-hither cascade of blonde luster. Men fantasized about her. The movie business exploited her. She lived high, metaphorically and literally, working and cavorting with the most beautiful and talented people in the world. …

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“The Author’s Point of View” by D.E. Stevenson

Published on: 23rd January 2020

Some notes for a talk to members of The Book Trade and other Businessmen and women in Glasgow. It was arranged by Messrs Collins and given in their premises in Cathedral Street. They enjoyed the jokes but very few of them had any useful suggestions to offer. However, Messrs Collins seemed quite satisfied and said there was a good deal of “useful talk” when I had come away! (Publisher’s note: The talk is undated, but probably was given in the late 1960’s.) …

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The DSP Guide to Palm Springs

Published on: 31st December 2019

Although we are perhaps best known for our Golden Age Crime Fiction and Furrowed Middlebrow titles (female British authors of the early-to-mid 20th Century), our Hollywood Collection is both dear to our hearts and ever expanding, these biographies and autobiographies of Silver Screen luminaries transporting us to those glamorous days when the eyes of the world were upon California. …

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Christmas Mysteries & More

Published on: 13th December 2019

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at the cozy offices of Dean Street Press; the halls are decked, the gifts are wrapped, our epic vintage holiday music playlist has us humming along to Bing Crosby, and each day concludes with a warming cup of mulled wine that our company director expertly brews in our little office kitchen. I am so overwhelmed with the holiday spirit that I’d much rather not be working, but instead, snuggling down with one of Dean Street Press’s Golden Age Christmas Mysteries. …

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The Anthromorphic ’Thirties

Published on: 18th November 2019

Anthromorphism (the attribution of human characteristic to animals or objects) has been around forever, yet it was in the 1930s—with its Great Depression need for whimsy – that this bizarre predilection peaked. As Dean Street Press publishes so many titles that date from The Thirties, it’s no surprise that anthromorphism is one of our (many) guilty pleasures. No moral incertitude seemed to have existed when putting a hopeful face on a potato alongside a recipe for french fries, and there was certainly no shortage of cannibalistic pigs brandishing plates of bacon with a “come and get it!” glee. This was the era of talking mice and obstreperous…

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Hollywood’s Deceased, Resting in Peace

Published on: 8th November 2019

The Dean Street Press ‘Hollywood Collection’ (biographies and autobiographies of Golden Age Hollywood stars) certainly came to mind during this week’s trip to Los Angeles and a visit to the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary. Nestled peacefully in the Westwood region of the city, the cemetary (that has undergone several name changes over the decades) has been active since the 1880s, and is still used to inter the bodies of the famous – and not so famous – of Hollywood’s elite. Notably, it is the site chosen by Joe DiMaggio to lay his ex-wife, Marilyn Monroe, to rest, her crypt only feet away from the grave…

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Netflix Trailers New Season of ‘The Crown’

Published on: 28th October 2019

It seems as if we have all been lords and ladies in waiting over the past two years, with Netflix always teasing, yet never committing, to a release date for the third season of its much acclaimed and soapy saga of Elizabeth Windsor’s life on the throne. Happily, the streaming platform has just announced the season premiere date (November 17th, 2019), along with a tantalizing trailer that finds this year’s Best Actress Oscar winner Olivia Colman all pursed lips, pearls, and pooches as The Queen. Her beautiful and troubled sister, Margaret, is played by Helena Bonham Carter in a role she was surely born to play. The sets seems as scrumptious as seasons one and two, the…

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‘IN LIKE FLYNN!’ In Celebration of Our Newest Author

Published on: 7th October 2019

This month, we admit to feeling a little bit chuffed here at Dean Street Press. Fans of detective fiction know only too well the frustration that comes with discovering a Golden Age Mystery author, and then the seeming impossibility of finding his or her books, the quest made all the more baffling if the writer was as prolific as Brian Flynn. The author of fifty-seven mystery novels, copies of Mr. Flynn’s books have been oddly difficult to come by, bloggers putting out virtual A.P.B.s for battered (and often very expensive) copies of The Triple Bite or The Five Red Fingers. I’d hardly say we are superheroes here at Dean Street Press, but it’s always nice to…

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In Praise of the Thirties’ Palette

Published on: 7th October 2019

With the launch of our new look website came a renewed interest in the history of colour. Of course, we wanted the look of the site to be 'web contemporary', but we also wanted to evoke the palette of the past and to speak to our book jackets. Designed in-house, one of the aspects of our cover art that I personally enjoy the most is the authentic palette. Whether a book was originally published in the the Twenties or the the Forties, the palette corresponds perfectly to each decade. Palette is of particular interest to me; as a professor of fashion and design history, colour theory is an enormous component of any course I teach, and I can’t tell you how many times…

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