Thursday, 18 February 2010

Wigs on the Green: Reprinted

This Nancy Mitford has not, to my knowledge, been re-printed since WWII, after which jokes about Fascism ceased being funny and it was, probably correctly, deemed inappropriate. Nancy herself was doubtless unconcerned by this censorship, as her sister Unity, on whom the main character in the novel is based, shot herself the day that war broke out, unable to reconcile her love for her mother country with her Nazi obsession. So the question one must ask, I suppose, is this: is Penguin's imminent re-publication of Wigs on the Green an indication that the War is far enough away now that we can laugh at its causes; are we entering an era of growing right-wing sensibilities in which there is a sudden need to poke fun at Fascism; or are the Mitford's and their oeuvre currently so in vogue that previously held views on decency are being sacrificed for financial gain? Whatever the real reasons for the re-issue (and I suspect it is a mixture of several), I for one am delighted.

What I am not so delighted about is the cover design. I am afraid I am an utter snob when it comes to book covers - I could rant for England about my abhorrence of the current vogue for covers of 'women's literature' in the full spectrum of pinks with stylised twenties cartoon images of stick-like women holding any combination of lipstick /powder compact / Pomeranian dog / suitcase / shoes / shopping bags...oh, you know the ones, and I'm wearing myself out just thinking about describing them. Not only modern chicklit falls foul of this creeping horror, however; Molly Keane is these days an embarrassment to be seen with. In answer to this problem, I was given for Christmas a gorgeous dark brown leather book cover, soft as kid gloves and just as sophisticated, that slips easily over any paperback, ostensibly to protect said book, but really, and unashamedly in my case, to hide the cover from neighbouring commuters. Not to hide the title, I must stress, but to disguise the actual cover design, which so often belittles the calibre of content, as well as the woman reader.

Thankfully, I note also that the beautiful Capuchin Classics range is re-issuing Highland Fling in a few weeks, and with one of their wholly appropriate covers. I love their sparse line drawings and simple, neutral colours.

Anyway, jackets aside, it is fabulous to have Nancy back among us so prolifically. Lordy, at this rate, we'll all be having our hair shingled and calling each other 'hon' by the end of the year!

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