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As It Was & World Without End
As It Was & World Without End | Helen Thomas
21 posts | 10 read | 3 to read
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The first book of this two part memoir is one of the most romantic stories of first love and first connection Iv ever read , the young Helen Tomas meeting her future husband Edward Thomas (poet,
Writer , journalist ) for the first time in England in the 1900s,

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I really enjoyed the writing and the story. I was struck by how different they were ( opposites attract) .. her sensuality, her body , the earth , nature. He did love nature , but not in the same physical‘ joy and strength‘ way she did .. the fields gave her life. His dreadful attacks of melancholy, his wrestling with the devil , that I could truly feel for , But his hurtful words to her and his great freedom and other women , I was very against.

BarbaraBB Beautiful review and photo 🌺 2mo
batsy Great review, Cathy! So nuanced and thoughtful. 2mo
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jlhammar Yes, they were so very different! Lovely photo and lovely review. I felt the same. 2mo
TrishB Great review 👍🏻 2mo
sisilia I cannot imagine how tough it is to deal with a spouse like David 2mo
Tamra 💚 Such a nice review! They indeed strike me as opposites, just like I felt the two volumes were so different! He changed, but she retained her youthful outlook & passion. 2mo
Tamra You have blooms! 🌸🌸 2mo
Cathythoughts @Tamra We have 🥰 Spring is sprung. 🌸 2mo
Cathythoughts @BarbaraBB Thankyou 👍🏻♥️ 2mo
Cathythoughts @batsy Thanks Suba X 2mo
Cathythoughts @jlhammar Yes ! So different. XX 2mo
Cathythoughts @TrishB Thanks Trish X 2mo
Cathythoughts @sisilia I know ! I wouldn‘t be able for that. 2mo
Cathythoughts @Tamra Yes , he was more in his mind , and she was rooted in the earth. I thought she was lovely ♥️ 2mo
quietjenn Pretty picture and great commentary 💐 2mo
sarahbarnes Great review and beautiful photo! 2mo
squirrelbrain Great review! ❤️ 2mo
andrew61 Great review Cathy. Such a fascinating story. Lovely photo. 2mo
LeahBergen Lovely review, Cathy, and I felt much the same way. 2mo
CarolynM Great review, Cathy. I hadn‘t thought about the differences in the ways they related to nature. Interesting! And a lovely photo too😍 2mo
Cathythoughts @andrew61 Thanks Andrew. I would have loved a few cowslips for the photo , but couldn‘t find any 😁 2mo
Cathythoughts @LeahBergen It was such a good book 👍🏻❤️ 2mo
Cathythoughts @CarolynM Yes I thought them so different.. he was was living in his mind , while she lived in nature and using her hands in the physical work of life. 2mo
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reading inbed with a cuppa and the furs. But omg;this man is so so cruel “you try with your idiotic kindness to please everyone & succeed in pleasing nobody,me least of all” & she accepts this other woman into their lives who is in love with her husband, they bothlove this cruel depressive awful man.Is he so cruel tohis wife because he‘s also inlove with Margaret?Was he really that goodlooking & interesting ?I find itmost bizarre butyet addictive

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jlhammar Yes, that part was especially cruel. So hard to read. 2mo
quietjenn He is a lot, for sure! But your set-up looks wonderful! 2mo
LeahBergen Ooph! Yes, that “me least of all”. So cruel. He‘s a difficult one to like after a while, isn‘t he? 2mo
CarolynM I didn‘t see the attraction either😒 2mo
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I enjoyed As It Was for its romantic, unaffected, innocent sensuality. The frankness was surprising in a book of the time, particularly one written by a woman, but was undoubtedly part of its charm. For me, though, World Without End was problematic. While I don‘t doubt there were mental health issues, I found his behaviour troubling & thought she “doth protest too much” in her assertions of their great passion.

LeahBergen I hear you! I felt like she was writing from a place where she allowed herself to look upon her life with a flawed partner in an idealized way. Sort of in a “don‘t speak ill of the dead” kind of way, if that makes sense. She seemed to idolize him in life and that only increased after his death. I was still oddly fascinated by them as a couple, though. 😆 2mo
CarolynM @LeahBergen All the “no-one appreciated him” stuff was a bit much. I got the feeling that he had an over inflated view of his own worth from the outset that drew her in and she never allowed herself to get over that first flush of infatuation and see him as he really was - talented, but not exceptionally so. I wonder, too, just how elevated were the circles he socialised in. (edited) 2mo
Tamra Great review! It has a “can‘t look away” spell, as awful as Edward was to her at times. What she was willing to share anyway. 2mo
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jlhammar Wonderful review - so well said! I had a hard time putting my conflicting thoughts together for this one. Very glad to have read it though. 2mo
Cathythoughts The frankness was surprising, I could not tolerate his behaviour towards her. I loved her innocence and her beauty .. her contact with nature and her children, I would have loved her to be more independent of him. 2mo
CarolynM @Tamra @jlhammar Thank you😘😘 2mo
CarolynM @Cathythoughts I wondered just how much he actively sought to ensure her dependence on him. It seemed like whenever she made friends they moved away and he kept his friends largely separate. 2mo
Cathythoughts Yes , good point , he kept her very separate! 2mo
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I was capitavated by the first half of this story evoking the joy of first love + the beauty of the English countryside.The descriptions of both were enchanting. The 2nd half tells of a woman's devotion to a talented but troubled man who struggles with depression + his place in literary society, which he often brings home to wife + children as well as potential lovers.The end is inevitable but so sad at the loss of their future @persephoneclub

BarbaraBB What a collection 🤩 2mo
CarolynM I found the second part harder to like too. I‘m glad you commented about him bringing the lovers home. That, as well as some of his other behaviour towards his wife & children, made me very uncomfortable. I felt like his “melancholy” was a convenient excuse at times, for both of them. 2mo
LeahBergen Yes! The second book was a bit of a jolt after the idealized young love of the first part, wasn‘t it? I found it interesting that she wrote that lovely first book and then took another five or six years to write and publish the second (less flattering to her husband) part. It definitely seemed like cathartic writing, didn‘t it? 2mo
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jlhammar Love your Persephone shelf! Great review. I felt much the same. I‘m so glad she went on to write the second half though. Hard to read some of what she endured, but I appreciated the fuller picture. 2mo
Tamra Very much different! But if I‘m honest, I preferred the second book. The first for me wasn‘t captivating, except for the nature writing which I really enjoyed. 2mo
Karons1 I‘m a little behind everyone 😆I find it absolutely astonishing that she was so entranced by him she tolerated his behaviour & was she so naive she didn‘t know these women were his lovers?Or just didn‘t want to know?And put to her down in front of them !! Just awful . Have finished world without end yet , I thought thefirst bookwas extremely romantic but how that love turns sour for him in the 2ndbook, he always seems on the brinkof suicide 2mo
Cathythoughts I loved the descriptions of nature too. She made me want to go out and walk in the meadows , I enjoyed the writing. 2mo
andrew61 @LeahBergen @Cathythoughts @Karons1 @Tamra @jlhammar @CarolynM an interesting piece of writing, + it must have been a book that in putting pen to paper was a difficult task. Edward dominates the story, and Helen embraces Eleanor as her very close friend. H must have had such contrasting emotions abt the loss of the person she loved, yet his moods, infidelity, and thwarted ambition must have been hard to live with. Feel I need to reas more abt her 2mo
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#persephonebookclub #aprilpersephoneread #bookspinbingo
Started this wonderful book on the way to the north Norfolkcoast with mollie and her brother who we have rescued and called Teddy he‘s now in his forever home & this is his first ever trip to the beach. I‘d never heard of Helen Thomas. Had to read the synopsis and Google her(good old Google)her writing is full of romance & wonder of early days love & nature & all the simple delights of life

Karons1 @LeahBergen @rubyslippersreads @Aimeesue @jlhammar @quietjenn @sisilia @CarolynM @Oryx @elkeOriginal @BookNAround @Eyelit @Gissy @Tamra @andrew61 @HeatherBlue @Cathythoughts @rsteve388 @Kristin_Reads @willaful @mom_of_4 Has anyone else started the April pick yet ? If so what‘s your thoughts ? In a modern world of consumerism it‘s refreshing & wonderful to read of how people lived without the possessions we have today & to think nothing of it. 2mo
jlhammar Such sweet puppies! Glad you‘re enjoying it so far. Great point about the contrast to our modern day ideals and consumerism. I appreciated that as well (even if it did sound stressful at times to not have a steady/traditional income). She was so good at improvising and making the best of things. 2mo
Tamra Yes, I agree there is a marked difference! We can definitely do with less. (Aside from books, which even they made an exception for!) 2mo
LeahBergen Omg! Look at those two sweet babies! ❤️❤️ I really enjoyed this read. Good point about consumerism and how little they actually needed to survive. 2mo
BookNAround Mollie and Teddy are lovely. 2mo
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Starting this one tonight. Ahhh, #persephone !

Tamra Enjoy! 💙 2mo
jlhammar Look forward to your thoughts! 2mo
LeahBergen Can‘t wait to hear what you think! 2mo
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After finishing the tagged book I went online to read more about Helen and Edward Thomas. This was the first thing I found and it broke my heart a little!


Cathythoughts Oh that is heartbreaking 💔 Thank you X 2mo
BarbaraBB How touching 2mo
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quietjenn What a gut punch. Wonderful find. 2mo
jlhammar How wonderful 💔 Thanks for sharing. 2mo
sarahbarnes ♥️♥️♥️ 2mo
andrew61 Perfect poem to post leah. Having just finished it has rounded off the experience. 2mo
Centique That is beautiful and sad even though I haven‘t read the book 😢 2mo
LeahBergen @andrew61 I can‘t wait to hear what you thought of it! 2mo
LeahBergen @Centique It‘s so moving! 2mo
CarolynM Very beautiful. And a bit of a contrast to the poem in the Afterword😯 2mo
LeahBergen @CarolynM Oh, a total contrast. 😳 2mo
Aimeesue Oh my. 2mo
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The author of this memoir (or is it autofiction?) describes life with her troubled ‘war poet‘ husband, Edward Thomas, in a style that is often a tad overwrought and worshipful but somehow oddly beautiful and compelling. I found them a fascinating couple and I‘m still going down the internet rabbit hole as I write (“Margaret” was the author, Eleanor Farjeon, and the “American poet” was Robert Frost 😮).

What did you all think, #PersephoneClub?

sisilia I just happens that I‘m reading Old School now and Robert Frost is in it, too 😬 2mo
LeahBergen @sisilia He sure wasn‘t impressed that Helen wrote such an “earthy” memoir about his dead friend! 🙄 2mo
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batsy Oooh! Robert Frost. Intriguing. 2mo
Cathythoughts Lovely review ❤️ That‘s very interesting about Robert Frost ! 2mo
Cathythoughts I‘m still not finished … 2mo
Hooked_on_books Wow, look at all those Persephones! 2mo
jlhammar Yes, worshipful! Great word choice and great review. 2mo
Tamra Yes, apt word choice! I did find her frankness about sex refreshing for the era. I would have been disappointed had I only read the 1st volume, but in the 2nd I appreciated her publicly sharing their struggle with depression. I think it hit close to home bc my husband struggled during Covid and it was all new to me. I was helpless & engaged in the same futile coping mechanisms. 😐 All‘s well now, but I‘m sad for those before modern treatment. 2mo
Tamra I‘m guessing it wasn‘t common to talk about no less expose mental illness at the time. 2mo
LeahBergen @batsy I think you‘d enjoy this one! 2mo
LeahBergen @Cathythoughts Thanks, Cathy! It‘s definitely one that had me searching out their history. I hope you end up liking it, too. 2mo
LeahBergen @Hooked_on_books I *may* have a problem. 😉 2mo
LeahBergen @jlhammar I don‘t think she would‘ve lasted very long in that marriage if she wasn‘t obsessed with him. 😆 2mo
LeahBergen @Tamra I‘m glad you‘re husband is feeling more himself now. I‘ve had experience with depression, too, and was thinking the same thing about how it was dealt with during that time period. Yikes! And her unabashed writing about their sexuality gave me DH Lawrence vibes. 2mo
LeahBergen @Tamra Oh, and did you notice the note from Persephone Books on the publication info page? About the “dirty bits” that were edited out of the first edition? 2mo
Hooked_on_books A problem? Like, needing more shelves? 😉 2mo
Tamra @LeahBergen nooooo! I‘m not surprised at all. 🤣 “dirty bits” (edited) 2mo
LeahBergen @Hooked_on_books You‘ve nailed it! 😆 2mo
LeahBergen @Tamra I became skilled at hunting down the “dirty bits” as a young reader. 😆 2mo
Cathythoughts They are fascinating as a couple , I agree. 2mo
LeahBergen @Cathythoughts They sure were! 2mo
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This felt like reading a warm, wonderful letter. I was captivated by Helen‘s voice—clear, heartfelt, intimate. The nature writing in particular is just stunning.

Her bohemian and ultra-romantic sensibility were a bit much for me at times, but I had to admire her honesty and audacity. And while she clearly loved Edward with every fiber of her being, their relationship struck me as rather unhealthy. Still heartbreaking though and a great read.

Cathythoughts Great review 👍🏻♥️ I‘m looking forward to finishing it. 2mo
Tamra What did you think of Edward? I have all sorts of ambivalent feelings. 2mo
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jlhammar @Tamra I had a lot of issues with his behavior, even taking into account his mental health struggles. It really bothered me when Helen would think “he cannot help it” and berate herself for “disturbing his peace” or for not being able to make him happy. And, I wouldn‘t be surprised if the account we read depicts things in a more favorable light given her loss. 2mo
Tamra @jlhammar I was disturbed by his audacity to foist what could only have been his adulterous relationship on Helen because she was willing to tolerate it. I feel he took advantage of her love. (Oldest human story.) I was impatient with her too, but I get it. Mental illness is not easy at all! Especially then when it wasn‘t as understood. 2mo
jlhammar @Tamra Yes, that‘s just how I felt! 2mo
LeahBergen Great review! And yes, I had issues with Edward‘s behaviour, too, and Helen‘s acceptance of it. Yikes. 2mo
CarolynM @Tamra @jlhammar Glad it wasn‘t just me. I thought there was a degree to which his “melancholy” was an excuse for emotionally abusive behaviour 2mo
Tamra @CarolynM exactly! 2mo
Cathythoughts I wasn‘t a huge fan of him either 2mo
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Thinking a lot about this notion (from Persephone's book page), as I sort out my thoughts and feelings for our #PersephoneClub pick, which I read yesterday. It's fascinating and moving and there's some knockout writing. And yet?

“So there are two ways of reading As It Was and World Without End. One is as a love story, the other is something more complex: a wife‘s description of a marriage which is partly ‘true‘ and partly wish fulfilment.“

jlhammar Yes, exactly! I‘m almost done and I‘ve got some complicated thoughts and feelings that are going to be difficult to articulate. 2mo
willaful I need to get started. Unfortunately, I could only get ahold of the first book. 2mo
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Tamra It‘s definitely more complicated than it seems at first blush! @quietjenn @jlhammar 2mo
CarolynM I enjoyed the first part, haven‘t got started on the second yet. 2mo
Cathythoughts I‘m still only at the beginning… need to get a move on. 🙈 2mo
LeahBergen I have the same thoughts! I definitely felt that “wish fulfillment” in parts from Helen. 2mo
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“Each season became dear to me, and their slow inevitable cycle—the fecundity of spring, the heavy fulfilment of summer, the grateful sacrifice of autumn, and the lovely secret withdrawing of winter. With what eager love we searched for the first violet and were waylaid by primroses! How our hearts stood still when the first cuckoo called, and the coming of the first swallow made the day holy!”

Such a lovely passage.

Tamra I loved all the nature writing in it! 2mo
LeahBergen Lovely! I‘m very much enjoying the nature writing, too. 2mo
Cathythoughts I loved the nature writing. It was inspiring 🌸 2mo
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If you”d like to hear Helen‘s own voice & see pics, check out this video. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qC5vyHcZAkc


jlhammar I watched this before starting and it was so nice to hear Helen‘s voice and see the photos. 2mo
LeahBergen I will! 👍 2mo
Cathythoughts Oh nice 👍🏻 I‘ll have a listen. ❤️ 2mo
andrew61 Thank you for sharing that it was really evocative of time and place, matching my imagination of the countryside in which they walked. 2mo
Tamra @andrew61 you are very welcome! It really brought her to life for me, to see both photos and to hear her voice. 2mo
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I was worried because memoir isn‘t a genre I typically enjoy. Plus, this one starts out rather slow and I was thinking, is this all there is? An account of a girl falling in love and daily domestic life?

But, that definitely isn‘t all Helen has to share! I loved her frankness and the raw emotion she conveys. I am conflicted about Edward so I‘m anxious to read what others in the Persephone group have to say. #PersephoneClub

jlhammar Oooh, interesting! I‘m only through the first chapter so don‘t have many thoughts yet. Look forward to reading more over the next few days. 2mo
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CarolynM I‘ve read As It Was and agree it was a slow start, but I came to appreciate what she was doing with it. Her attitudes must have been quite shocking at the time, but they seem almost commonplace today. I‘m planning to get to the second part in the next day or two. 2mo
Tamra @jlhammar I think you‘ll like it! 🤞🏾 2mo
Tamra @CarolynM yes indeed, she‘s quite open and forward in her attitude about sex & relationships for the era! It is refreshing and must have been brave. 2mo
Cathythoughts Good to hear your thoughts 👍🏻 I havnt started yet .. hoping to soon 👍🏻😁 2mo
LeahBergen I‘ve only read the first couple of chapters so far but I‘m enjoying how she writes about that headiness of young love. 2mo
LeahBergen I‘m conflicted about Edward, too, and finding this a really difficult book to review! 2mo
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It‘s now April so that means it‘s time for one of our #PersephoneClub reads!

@andrew61 ‘s pick for us this month is As It Was and World Without End by Helen Thomas. This is a casual buddy read; read and comment on each other‘s posts and reviews as you see them. We usually aim to finish by the middle of the month but that‘s not written in stone. 😉 And anyone is welcome to read along with us, of course!

jlhammar Yay, so excited! 2mo
Cathythoughts Thanks Leah X I‘m off to get it from my shelf 👍🏻♥️ 2mo
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Tamra Thank you for the tag! 💙 I read ahead because I wasn‘t sure about keeping up, but the font was big enough to make it easy. 😁 2mo
CarolynM I‘m ready to go👍 2mo
merelybookish I'm tempted to join you in June for 2mo
rubyslippersreads I‘m going to sit this one out, but will catch up in June. 😀 2mo
elkeOriginal In a (probably misguided) attempt to keep book buying under control, I am not joining this month‘s read. I look forward to all your posts convincing me how wrong I was! Besides, I still have to finish last month‘s furrowed middlebrow book…🫣 2mo
Tamra @elkeOriginal I haven‘t finished that one yet either, so know you aren‘t alone! 2mo
LeahBergen @jlhammar Me, too! 2mo
LeahBergen @Cathythoughts I still need to do that. 😄 2mo
LeahBergen @Tamra Hooray for big fonts! I love them. 😆 2mo
LeahBergen @CarolynM Awesome! 👏 2mo
LeahBergen @merelybookish Please do! 😘 2mo
LeahBergen @rubyslippersreads No problem! 😘 2mo
LeahBergen @elkeOriginal Control over book buying? Impossible! 😆 No worries. We‘ll see you for the next one! 😘 2mo
quietjenn I'm ready! 2mo
Cathythoughts @Tamra oh I have mine open now. Yes ! That‘s great font 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 2mo
Karons1 Picked my copy up from the lovely 🥰 shop in bath on Friday ; happy 😃 reading everyone it has great 😌 reviews . 2mo
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Mollie and I back in bath 🛁 and of course had to drag hubbie to the Persephone bookshop you cannot visit bath and not come !! Along with mr b‘s 🥰#persephonebookshop #cityofbath #persephonebookclub #mrb‘sbookemporium

LeahBergen Oh, lucky you! 👏 2mo
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5⭐️ This book is both a memoir and a love letter. I admire Helen Thomas for being so strong for her family; I cannot imagine the hardship and the heartaches that she went through. Her story stirred my emotion, and the ending wrecked me 😭 Now I want to read Edward‘s works and his biography by Matthew Hollis.

Here is Helen Thomas at age 90 talking about the start of their relationship https://youtu.be/qC5vyHcZAkc

jlhammar Wow, thanks for that video link! Look forward to reading this next month for #PersephoneClub. Sounds amazing. 3mo
sisilia @jlhammar I must thank #PersephoneClub for this excellent pick 3mo
Tamra Now I‘m definitely looking forward to this one! 3mo
LeahBergen Oh, you have me looking forward to this even more now! 👏 3mo
sisilia @Tamra @LeahBergen I cannot detach myself from this couple. I‘m still googling… found a link of Geoffrey Palmer reading Adlestrop https://youtu.be/bDUEwGR_gH8 and have been listening on repeat.. it‘s so beautiful 😍 3mo
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She said it perfectly💞

TheSpineView 💗💗💗 3mo
Suet624 You‘re right. 3mo
jlhammar Great passage. 3mo
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I had to google Edward Thomas and omg he‘s gorgeous! 😍

KathyWheeler He is! 3mo
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Interesting to read this after finishing New Grub Street last week. The father character here reminds me of Alfred Yule, who similarly likes to have visitors in his study

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Wow I‘m not used to seeing so much space on a page 🤓

Suet624 Quite spacious. 3mo
Tamra I noticed that too when I received my copy last week. (edited) 3mo
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