Love in Winter
By Storm Jameson
Illustration by Angela Landels
Capuchin Classics 2009
At first sight, the cover of this reissue from British boutique publisher Capuchin Classics looks like it belongs to a romantic novel. It’s the cliché of a young woman – beautiful, poised, pure of heart – with an enigmatic older man looking on.
Two things, though, suggest this is more than just some Mills & Boon tearjerker. First, the calming mint-green bands at top and bottom, reminiscent of Penguin’s classic “grid” design; and, second, the stark clarity of the line drawing against its white background.
In fact, this book is a substantial piece of work. Originally published in 1935, Love in Winter is a semi-autobiographical novel by the British writer Storm Jameson, which reflects her own experiences in London after the first world war – as a struggling novelist, a mother and a committed socialist.
Confusingly, the winsome cover star is not the Jameson character in the book, but Hannah Markham, a trainee fashion designer. The man eyeing her is David Renn, a journalist investigating a fraud, which forms a major plot strand.
Despite occasional flowery writing, the intricacies of Jameson’s characters’ emotional lives are more than balanced by the insight she gives into the tangled world of British politics, business and media interests during that dark time.
Angela Landels‘ work adorns all of Capuchin’s 40-odd titles to date, giving them a look charmingly out of step with modern publishing. Landels admits her style is old-fashioned, not least in showing the characters’ features, something almost unheard of these days. “I think people are drawn in by faces,” she says. Here that is particularly true.
It’s also evidence that, when a scene between two secondary characters ends up on the cover of a novel simply because it inspires the illustrator, an idiosyncratic spirit is still at work in British publishing.