There’s an adage familiar to most people that says something along the lines of how modern technology is making the world a smaller place as each day passes. Now, while the internet and newsletters such as this one prove the point extremely well, I have, over the past few weeks, been made even more aware of the truth of the smaller world sentiment. Only this time it’s been a rather strange and peculiar occurrence which has made particularly conscious of this concept. It seems like every other day there’s been a knock on the back door of spice acres which, upon opening the door, is revealed as yet another express mail delivery through the international networks of UPS, DHL, NCIS, SVU, CSI (Ontario), or whoever it is that delivers packages and solves crimes in our neck of the woods. So many of these recent deliveries have been samples of foreign language editions of Lynsay’s books and it was seeing them all piled up on my desk, like some modern day Tower of Babel, confounding me with their multitude of languages while they were awaiting their turn on the scanner so we can post the resultant images on the website, that set me thinking about the vast geographical spread of the readers of the books of Lynsay Sands. That the stories are published in many different countries and languages sparked, for me, the recognition of how alike we really all are throughout the globe, irrespective of where we live and what culture we grew up in. It seems as if Lynsay’s books finding their way into Russia, Holland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Korea, Norway and even Japan, tells yet another story, outside of those within the books, which is one of universal recognition and understanding of the feelings, emotions, hopes, fears and experiences which Lynsay’s characters have undergone in their journey from the prologue through to the final chapter and, hopefully, right on to the happy ending.
But while the publishing of the books in various different countries highlights the similarities between the people of different nations, the cover art which adorns each different edition of the same title seems, quite often, to tell a slightly different story. Perhaps not about the difference between the people of various nations, but certainly about the varying ideas that come out of different art departments. And nowhere was this better illustrated than by the arrival of no less than three different versions of the historical novel - Love Is Blind.
The first of the overseas books to arrive also turned out to be something of a first for Lynsay herself - her first book to be published in Japan. The Japanese translation of Love Is Blind has, in it’s own way, cover art which is the closest in design to that on the front of the familiar English language version, in that it features a young woman, apparently lost in thought and surrounded by a mass of flowers. As to whether this is a result of the original cover art being used as a design guide for the Japanese publisher’s art department, or whether it is purely coincidental that the same basic elements appear on both covers, I wouldn’t care to speculate. And while the designs are reminiscent of each other, there are noticeable differences between the two. The Japanese book goes for a fairly modern look, even though the book is set in the Regency period, while the original edition uses an illustration which is slightly closer to the appropriate period. Although even that seems closer to the style of painting that was in vogue during the latter part of the 19th century, rather than the much earlier year of 1818, which is the setting for when the story opens.
The second overseas version of Love Is Blind arriving in the mail was the Dutch translation and which arrived at the sametime as the Dutch versions of The Perfect Wife and, rather late in the day, The Deed. Love Is Blind, or Wat jij niet ziet as it’s known in Holland, sports a cover which is in a more traditionally romantic style than original publication or the Japanese edition previously mentioned. Featured on the front is an embracing couple dressed in what may, or may not be Regency fashions but where, to my eyes, the gentleman appears to be wearing an ensemble that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the cover of a Duran Duran record from back in the early 1980’s, while the lady seems to have walked straight from the set of the movie Gone With The Wind. Still, this is Holland, remember, and so who can guess which café the Dutch publisher’s art department frequent during their lunch break… or what kind of exotic cigarettes were smoked for a post repast pleasure? And while the overall look of the Dutch cover art differs from the English and Japanese language versions, the one thing in common with all three is a complete lack of any indication that the book is A/ a comedy and, B/ concerns a girl with less than perfect vision.
This is also true for the next version to appear, this time coming all the way from Russia. In this case, though, the art department do score full marks and get awarded a gold star for appearing to try and make the cover look appropriate for the period in which the book is set. There’s an unmistakable Regency air about the pair of lovers dancing through what appears to be a formal garden and, once again, they continue with the theme of an array of flowers within the scene. There’s also a gold foil lattice framework around the main area of the illustration, which is a nice additional touch and perhaps suggests that, in modern Russia, there‘s something of a yearning for glamour and excess of earlier times after the austerity of the Soviet era.
It’s slightly ironic, then, that all four of the editions of Love Is Blind that are in our possession give no indication of the comedic nature of the book or of the main theme in the story. But there is one cover illustration that does both of those things and which is the original design proposed for the English language version of the book. You won’t see it in the bookstores, though. It was rejected outright when the publishers heard the two cries from the wilderness. From the distribution network was heard, ”It’s yellow! Yellow books don’t sell.” And from Lynsay came a concise, but unmistakeable ,“Ugh” So, were we all correct in our condemnation of the artwork?
Judge for yourself.
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