Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has been sold with many covers and looks, but some have appeared to be designed for a specific group of readers. Unpacking the multitude of covers would be a lifelong event, but one cover has truly fascinated me in the themes it brings forward and how it may perfectly embody the opposite of what Jane Austen may have wanted for this work. In reading and observing Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice the Classic Novel with Recipes for Modern Teatime Treats by Martha Stewart, my eyes have been opened to the world of irony that Jane Austen is all too well familiar with. The cover has been crafted perfectly and elegantly for the great purpose of stereotyping the average reader of Jane Austen and embodying the irony Jane Austen loves, albeit in the wrong way.
The cover does an amazing job of grabbing your eyes, but what does it really show about the edition? The bright white ornate text of the title pops on an all-blue background to let you know exactly what you are reading. It is extremely effective in splashing pink and white flowers and gold frames to also pop off its pastel blue background. The images also guide your eyes down the cover in a staircase like format starting with actual arrows in gold pointing to the top. Its designs are all made from frosting and meant to look like cookies decorated by Amber Spiegel who is credited with having done “All of the artwork created for this book...using edible ingredients.” (Stewart 323) The chapters have decorative pages in between them with highlighted Austen quotes from the page you are reading also designed by the same artist in the same way. As elegant, eye-catching, and beautiful as the cover is, it brings out deeper stereotypes of Jane Austen’s average reader.
User ‘Vic’ on janeaustensworld.com, an avid fan, writer, and student of Austen’s works, writes “It’s a fact that more women read Jane Austen than men.” (Vic 1) The website is a platform where Jane Austen fans around the world can share verified opinions and blogs on Jane Austen’s works. While Jane Austen’s fanbase is compiled of almost entirely women, many men have come to join an official Jane Austen Fanclub and appreciate her works just the same. Vic, as a man himself also dives into the growing population of men reading her works. However, the cover of this version does not support that theory in the slightest. It is clearly designed in more feminine colors and adds the dainty decorations of “Modern Teatime Treats” (Stewart cover). It indicates clearly the book is designed for the female audience to have an “interactive” way of reading the book. Although the interactive aspect of the book is a cool concept and brings out a new way to appreciate her works, it undermines its purpose as a story.
The Irony of the Cover
Austen also presents irony to the reader throughout the book and the cover itself embodies that irony although unintentional. Austen loves irony opening the book with an iconic line “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (Austen 1) She continues to utilize this irony throughout the novel and yet the cover does the same but in the opposite way of Austen. Austen commonly used irony to mock or undermine stereotypes of her time and the cover presents itself as a call to her ‘average’ fan to indulge their feminine desires to make cutesy treats. The back cover states, “The classic tale comes alive with delicately frosted cookie art and other sugary embellishments, offering an unexpected touch to Elizabeth Bennet’s story of love and sisterhood.” (Stewart Back Cover) Although the frosted cookies are spread throughout the book through decorations and recipes, does it really enhance Elizabeth Bennet’s story of love? No. It gives the reader something to do instead of reading the novel, and the treats have almost no relevance to the story. After chapter four, we see Jane and Elizabeth talking about the men at the ball. Following this conversation, we enter chapter five, but not before learning how to make a Sugar and Spice Cake. Could the concept of sugar and spice be themes in the chapters? If one really stretched their imagination yes, but they are simply thrown in with no adaptation towards Pride and Prejudice.
Desert the Desserts
With Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice being overall undermined by the irony and intentions of the cover, it does allow extra activity surrounding the work. Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has been designed and redesigned a multitude of ways but never as a recipe book. Its uniqueness can draw in a new audience of readers in hopes to scoop up cooks and bakers and catch their eyes with pretty colors and a big name like Martha Stewart. Jane Austen created timeless works, and the fact it can be stretched into a recipe book shows the loyalty of fans and the drive for more Jane Austen in any way people can get it. Although I might recommend a different edition to study.