Ode to Jane.
About Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Covers by Margaret C. Sullivan: Jane Austen’s six novels are true classics, still immensely popular some 200 years after their first publication. But although the celebrated stories never change, the covers are always different. Jane Austen Cover to Cover compiles two centuries of design, from elegant Victorian hardcovers and the famed 1894 “Peacock” edition to 1950s pulp, movie tie-in editions, graphic novels, foreign-language translations, and many, many others. Filled with beautiful artwork and insightful commentary, this fascinating and visually intriguing collection is a must for Janeites, design geeks, and book lovers of every stripe.
I "read" this book because of the Austen in August event, mainly because I have yet to immerse myself in actually reading any of Austen's work (I've read some, but did not know any better , so I don't think it counts, really.) I can't think of a better way to introduce oneself to a new author than in a compendium like this -- it's packed with history, histories of book covers, film, TV, comics, translations (and cover designs in other countries!), book summaries, trivia and quotes, Austeniana and more -- packaged in an easily digestible, and very pretty, coffee table book.
My two cents
I likedI am assuming that Janeites revel in gorgeous covers all the time. This book proves it. The book itself is pretty; pretty to hold, pretty to leaf through. But it's got substance; you can tell that despite the simplicity of presentation that it is backed with plenty of research. What I found particularly intriguing were:
History, Austen, life during the Regency era. Two hundred years indeed! This covers an entire gamut of Jane Austen's beloved work from 1775-2012. Impressive.
Insight in the publishing industry during Austen's time. Publishing has always been a risky business and it was during so in Austen's time too, when business models where either costs were borne by either the author or the publisher. It's mind-boggling that with Austen's widespread popularity today that she received a rather paltry sum for rights for Pride and Prejudice.
Anachronistic Austen covers are rife. The evolution of covers shows how covers reflect the time that they were published, not necessarily the era of the novel. I found myself laughing at a lot of the commentary alongside odd covers like this:
"Modern heirlooms" is my favorite section. For any cover lover, or graphic design buff, this entire book showcases book covers but by far, I was drooling most over the designs in the "Modern Heirlooms" chapter because it is still possible to actually get copies. Some of my coveted covers (self explanatory, right?):
Lots of fun stuff! Consider:
Verdict: This coffee table book screams Austen! If you're already a Janeite, you must have a copy of this. If you're not, I am betting this book will at the least intrigue you to read Austen's work, or the most, convert you into a Janeite.
I myself am now intrigued by Jane Austen, her writing, and I look forward to reading more and learning more. Consider me a Janeite-in-training.
I received a copy of this book through the publisher for honest review consideration.