If you managed to read my guest post for Verity's Virago Venture then you will know that I am hopeless at resisting a pretty book cover and if you read my blog regularly then that probably didn't escape your notice; I also enjoy owning matching sets of books and today's blog post covers both. Virago Press have over the last few years begun marketing beautifully illustrated re-issues of books that feature on their Virago Modern Classics list by some of their most popular authors; first came new editions of the Angela Carter books that they publish, followed by Muriel Spark (some of which are still forthcoming) and now they are in the process of publishing new editions of Barbara Pym's novels. These series of books had to be part of my collection as I find the artwork stunning.
I would have entitled this post "book cover coveting" but have purchased all of the ones published thus far. This week saw the re-issue of both The Comforters (her debut novel) by Muriel Spark and Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym, hence the timely post.
The Muriel Spark copies are photographed above and I have read the first to be published, Symposium and Loitering with Intent. Expect to read a review of The Comforters soon as I expect that it will be a book that I love based on the fabulous synopsis:
In Muriel Spark's fantastic first novel, the only things that aren't ambiguous are her matchless originality and glittering wit. Caroline Rose is plagued by the tapping of typewriter keys and the strange, detached narration of her every thought and action. She has an unusual problem - she realises she is in a novel. Her fellow characters are also possibly deluded: Laurence, her former lover, finds diamonds in a loaf of bread - could his elderly grandmother really be a smuggler? And Baron Stock, her bookseller friend, believes he is on the trail of England's leading Satanist.
As yet I have not read any Barbara Pym novels but I have heard delightful things and look forward to reading these funny novels.
The cover illustrations in their case are courtesy of Jessie Ford and I think they are fabulously colourful and amusing. An article this week accused these covers of belonging to the '"chick-lit" genre' (the photograph featured is the cover for A Glass of Blessings, which will be published later this year as well as other Pym titles) but I don't agree. Virago have been guilty of publishing dubious covers for other VMC reissued titles that can be completely misleading (see this) but I think that the Pym covers are fresh and fun and to be taken in the witty light of their content.
The commissioned covers for both Spark and Pym are reminiscent of the wonderful covers and typography for Virago's Angela Carter titles by Roxanna Bikadoroff, some of which are photographed below. These are by far my favourite illustrated covers and I upgraded my Angela Carter collection to include these editions as they encapsualte her rich, lush, and bizarre creations. I think this is an admirable marketing ploy and coup for Virago.
Roxanna Bikadoroff is also the illustrator for the North American Penguin copies of Angela Carter's work, a fact that I am amazed I did not realise sooner as I also have a couple of those copies from across the pond. I found a great blog post by Caustic Cover Critic that features images of some of those editions (look at the very clever Penguin logos). It interests and pleases me greatly that Carter can now be universally identified (well, despite for the Vintage editions of her work. I love Vintage Books but their Carter covers don't excite me nearly as much as the ones photographed).
I hope you have enjoyed today's foray into the wonderful world of cover art.