Fickle Fiction

Cover: The sea the seaHappy Birthday, Iris Murdoch! She was pretty much up there with Doris Lessing for a while and was worthy of being played by Dame Judi Dench in the biopic about her tragic battle with Alzheimer’s. But then Lessing won the Nobel Prize and it seems Murdoch has gone out of fashion and few people read her now.

Fashion is just as fickle in books, or rather in writers, as it is in clothes. A movie or television adaptation can send a writer who has been ignored for years into the best seller lists, and a new biography, preferably with a few salacious details, can do the same.

Dickens keeps on keeping on and probably didn’t need a push from The Invisible Woman, but Trollope seems to have lost the impetus Barchester Towers gave him a few years ago. Swings and roundabouts – Anthony’s time may come again if a director with an eye for a great story decides to film The Eustace Diamonds.

Cover: The Fairy DollChildren’s books seem to ride the winds of fashion better, perhaps because they get a new set of readers every generation and parents and present-buyers hark back to what they loved when choosing.

A nice new cover helps, like the lovely Jane Ray illustration gracing Rumer Godden‘s The Fairy Doll, first published in 1956. Virago should have taught that lesson years ago when they single-handedly brought some unfairly ignored women writers back to readers’ attention.

Do you have a favourite who has dropped out of fashion, one you dream of bringing back?

Once upon a time…

It’s always nice to see new interpretations of fairytales, particularly an illustrator’s interpretations of favourite characters.  There have recently been several outstanding new additions to our collection of fairytales for you to feast your eyes on.

Lucy Cousins’ Yummy is one of my favourite books of the year because of her bright, bold illustrations and her uncensored versions of some of the best fairytales for young children.  The appeal of this book is the graphic nature of the illustrations, such as in Little Red Riding Hood we see Red and Granny being swallowed by the wolf and the wolf’s head flying across the page after being chopped off by the Woodsman.  In The Three Little Pigs the wolf is boiled in the pot and eaten by the pigs.  I particularly like the horrible looking troll in The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  This is a great fairytale collection particularly for boys as there are no princesses in sight.

Fairy Tales by Berlie Doherty and Jane Ray is a reprint of their popular classic originally published in 2000.  Walker Books is one of my favourite publishers as they always publish great books that are beautifully designed.  Classic Fairy Tales is one of the titles that Walker have re-released in stunning paperback editions that are easier to hold and read. This collection includes a wonderful selection of popular fairytales, such as Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and Rumpelstiltskin, retold by Berlie Doherty with magical illustrations by Jane Ray.  One of the things I like most about this book is that every page is decorated with colourful borders that match the story. This collection is perfect for older children, especially those girls that love princesses.