A Classics Challenge April Prompt: Cover Story

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This month's prompt for A Classics Challenge (hosted by November's Autumn) focuses on covers.

Level 1
What are your first impressions as you look at the cover?
It kind of has the look of the more traditional Les Miserables covers except less stark and more... pretty.

Level 2
Does the book cover have an aspect that reflects the character, setting, or plot of the novel?
I think in some ways it does and in others does not. For example, I think the image is more appealing than the normal cover, but at the same time this little girl looks more well-off than the traditional Les Miserables little girl. The whole point of the story is to describe the underprivileged masses that rise up and fight -- I wouldn't expect them to have warm black coats and umbrellas. So in some ways, while this is still a little girl in a dreary setting, she doesn't look quite as "miserable" as the title would suggest. I've also always wondered who she is supposed to be. Is she Cosette? There seem to be so many other characters that are miserable, and Cosette is not young the entire book, so I'm not sure.

Level 3
If you could have designed the book cover what would you have chosen?
Honestly, I've always felt that Jean Valjean was the true star of Les Miserables, and I think he deserves to be on the cover, maybe during his galley slave days. Chained to a group of miserable convicts, performing hard labor -- this is his beginning and a past that shadows him his entire life, and he was consigned to it because he stole bread to feed his miserable family. Nothing against Cosette or whomever this nameless girl is, but I think Jean Valjean is more deserving of some face time. 


  1. This is a very pretty cover. Although I must say, she looks far too well fed to be "miserable".

    1. It is pretty. I probably wouldn't have thought about it not quite fitting without this prompt.

  2. I have an answer to your concern in Level 2. She might look better than you expect the children to look, and this would absolutely be a marketing decision. They would not want a cover with ugly, dirty, or malnourished-looking children, it isn't attractive and wouldn't sell. This girl, however, has a very striking face, especially while the rest of the cover is so dark.

    1. I was totally thinking about you with this post because I remembered when you were redesigning the Wrinkle in Time cover. That is a good point about the marketing value, and I do think it is a really nice picture.


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