Review// Jane Austen Cover to Cover by Margaret C. Sullivan

Monday, November 24, 2014

Trends come and go but Jane is forever 

I've been a fan of Jane Austen for a long time now, since middle school but unlike my love for Winnie-the-Pooh, it wasn't love at first sight. Rewind two-years before my love for Jane Austen when I chanced upon Pride and Prejudice in the classroom library that consisted of Tupperware containers (yes, I was that young), I really disliked Austen. Granted, the only English classic I liked at that point was Sherlock Holmes, despite the fact that "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" scared me (It still does, a bit.) 

Fast forward to today--I've got a collection of Austen paperbacks and various Jane Austen products from a Pemberly pennant to a Jane Austen journal. Enter Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Book Covers from stage left. It combines a lot of things I really enjoy-- history, graphic design, and Austen. It's almost as if it had my name on it. 


If only that were the case. I'd just have this all to myself, cradling it. 

I jest. 

It's fascinating to see book designs evolve, change, adapt, and rewind over the years and even more fascinating to see the same couple of books evolve, change, adapt to the overarching design styles. How many books can you trace the cover evolution for 200 years? 

Trends come and go but Jane is forever. 

I for one, never thought a Jane Austen novel could look like a pulp romance novels from the 80's,  or gothic-looking covers that reminded me of Nancy Drew covers. It's a testament to Austen's own writing and stories that these designs could be adapted to the stories.

Paired with the covers are humorous commentary about the covers such as:
 "This one, however, might provide too much detail. Surely lovely Marianne and sensible Elinor weren't as tight-lipped as these prime and dour maidens with their thousand-yard stares and hair plastered over their ears. How is Willoughby supposed to clip a lock?" 
 Divided into six sections and printed in full-color, Jane Austen Cover-to-Cover doesn't cover every edition and variation but it covers the ones that are remarkable. Surprisingly, it included an e-book edition of the cover, which surprised me. The cover itself isn't remarkable-- a generic portrait of a random woman but it was the fact that Jane Austen was spelled "Jane Austin" that merited a place in the book. It's these little things-- the snark and the humor that really make the book.

There's additional historical information on Jane as well as a timeline of her life, a background to the book. If you're like me and you enjoy Jane Austen, history and design (just just one of the three), you probably will adore Jane Austen Cover-to-Cover. Yes, it's an assumption but I'm probably right.

Over and out.

P.S Now that the holidays are here, it's a perfect gift. Even if it is for yourself.

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