Book jackets have been on my mind recently. Not only - let's get the BSP out of the way right now - because Midnight Ink have just revealed the gorgeous cover for THE CHILD GARDEN, coming in September:
but also because another gorgeous cover was responsible for the quickest ever failure of a post-Christmas book-buying embargo.
With the TBR bookcase groaning and a Christmas stocking that was mostly more books (and then I spent my Christmas money from my mother-in-law on guess what too), I declared on the first of January that I wasn't buying any new books until Malice. Except at Left Coast. Or if I needed them to prepare to moderate. Or I was at the launch party. Or Stephen King.
No. New. Books.
Then on Thursday, I saw this in the Avid Reader:
The texture is granular, with some shiny bits and look at how the shape of the beak echoes the thorns and what do those symbols mean and . . . in short, that photo was taken in my bedroom.
I've long been a sucker for covers. Every Christmas since Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow was published, I've had a "waxy-jacketed snow book" to read. This year it was Allen Esken's The Life We Bury
Although the waxy snow books only get added to once a year, some of the other jacket collections can grow more quickly.
I got interested in O. Douglas because she was the sister of John Buchan who wrote The 39 Steps (and Kenneth More, in the second film of the novel, dangles from the bridge you can see from my mum's bedroom - it all makes sense, see?) and when I went looking for one of her books to read I found this - the Nelson edition of Penny Plain:
Even someone with less of a taste for kitsch than me might well have been a goner. The official O. Douglas (Nelson edition) colelction has grown slowly:
but the thing is, while scouring dusty bookshops looking for these, I've found some delicious non-Douglas jackets I couldn't resist. Some of them have been wrapped around good books by writers who're now firm favourites. I found this by an unknown author:
and have now read every word Betty MacDonald wrote. In fact I've spent some time reading that I could usefully have spent organising the collection. I only today discovered the situation below:
Similarly, I loved the film Mrs 'Arris goes to Paris, with Angela Lansbury in the title role, but I had no idea there were Mrs Harris books until I came across these two (durung a Douglas hunt):
(I've still to track down a Paris, mind you.)
This is not to say that every kitsch gem of a cover has a great book lurking inside. I'll never get round to reading either of these two, I'm pretty sure, but who could resist them?
And of course, not every kitsch cover is a gem. Some of them are what my husband would call "gem's cousin we don't talk about". Like this shocker from Erle Stanley Gardner's publishers:
What had he done to upset them, I wonder? He was luckier with other books. This one is one of my favourites:
It's hard to pick an outright favourite but I like the fact that these two editions were published only a few years apart, one in the US and in the UK. Guess which is which:
"Put that beastly thing away or I shall slice you to ribbons with the creases in my trousers, you brute!" vs "Oh, yeah? You and whose army?"
Let me know if you want a copy of The Plague And I; I've got at least two to spare.