Friday, October 17, 2014

Jane Austen Cover to Cover by Margaret C. Sullivan

I was asked if I would review Margaret C. Sullivan's latest book, Jane Austen Cover to Cover, and I was only too happy to! I had heard about this upcoming book and I was very much looking forward to it and already had it on my wish list!

"In the short forty-two years of her life, Jane Austen wrote six novels that would endure long after her death in 1817. The texts are true classics, unchanged and yet still immensely popular some 200 years later, but the covers have changed with the times-from the elegant inscriptions of the famous Peacock cover, to pulpy sixties pop art, to graphic novels, Twilight-inspired copycat covers, and mystifyingly bad digital editions. With over 200 images of covers spanning as many years of Austen books, this fascinating, funny, and art-filled book is a must for Janeites, design geeks, and book lovers of every stripe."

I always knew that there were lots of different covers and editions of Jane Austen's novels - I own quite a few versions myself! - but I didn't realise how many there really were!

This book was absolutely fascinating to look through and spot ones I own, and how many I don't - and seeing how many editions I want to own! There is an unbelievable amount, many more than I ever imagined, some I recognised but others that were completely new to me! It really was amazing to see the wide range of publications and their interpretations of the books for the covers. There was everything ranging from beautifully simple to really quite funny and a little scary!

As well as all the book covers, there were well chosen quotes dispersed throughout the book which was a nice touch, and at the end of each chapter there was a short essay on something relating to Jane Austen, for example about her popularity in America, what Jane looked like or fashion in the era.

The quality, styling and visual appearance of the book is truly beautiful - it is full of brightly coloured images and photos of the book covers which makes it a lovely looking book, and it is well spaced out and while full of information, it doesn't feel crowded as you read.

The information itself is really fun and very informative, and it was interesting to learn about all the covers in their historical context and how the books changed depending on what was in demand, for example when mass-market paperbacks were produced as cheaply as possible so her work could be read by everyone. To see the different prices of the books change through the years was interesting, and as well as the publishers own description of the novel and the publication date, there was often some fun stories behind the more... peculiar and strange covers!

I was fascinated as I read through the book learning about all the covers and all the different languages her work has been translated into to, not to mention all the fan fiction which has been written. I also found it interesting to see how they would produce a new cover to link to a television adaptation which had recently come out - a clever marketing scheme!

This is a book which should grace the shelves of every Austen fan, in my opinion! It really is a very interesting and a very unique book and a fantastic way of celebrating 200 years of Austen's work.

Your affectionate friend,
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