Tuesday, April 8, 2008

In Which Miss Cavendish Is Tricked (She Thinks)

Some years ago Vogue printed an excerpt from Jacqueline and Lee Bouvier’s youthful diary of their travels in Europe. Called One Special Summer, the diary was made as a gift to the girls’ mother: Jacqueline wrote the text while Lee added cunning and humorous illustrations.

Inevitably, the book was published in 1974—and re-released by Rizzoli not too long ago.

When I saw the cover to the new edition—perhaps previewed in Vanity Fair or somesuch—I was captivated. The cover illustration was of two swans (I’m using Truman Capote’s terminology here) standing on deck of a steamer as the Eiffel Tower either appears or disappears in the distance. It was, to my eyes, a delightful, enchanting image and I wanted to see more.

I special-ordered the book, gazed lovingly at the cover, and opened it up. Inside was indeed the facsimile diary in Jacqueline’s sweeping hand and the clever illustrations by Lee, but the cover illustration had been done by someone else, and it was that illustrator who had compelled me to order the book. Indeed, a gentle reader could easily assume that the cover sketch had been drawn by Lee’s tender hand, as this book was promoted as an illustrated treasure from the two sisters

I felt irritated at best, duped at worst, for I had indeed judged an illustrated book by its cover. I returned the book and vowed always to take a peek inside the covers before purchasing a book like this again.

1 comment:

enc said...

What a letdown. I'm sorry! Who would have guessed that the work on the outside wouldn't be the work on the inside.