Saturday, May 17, 2014

WE ARE SPOILED by Phyllis Paul

In the new issue of Wormwood (#22), I have a "Late Review" recommending Phyllis Paul's first novel, We Are Spoiled (1933):

for the unusually assured prose style and deft wit. The reader is pulled into the narrative by the very first sentence:
The Laurias came to Hammersing heath in the very bleakest of springs, and Mrs. Lauria, her urban spirit altogether failing at the sight of the place, went upstairs a few days after the removal with the suitable last words, “I am going to rest,” and lay down and died. (p. 7)
This odd but fresh style continues throughout the rest of the book. While there is nothing of the fantastic about the story, the manner of its telling and its moods are fairly gripping and enchant the reader. As the Times Literary Supplement noted, while “many effective chords are struck, it is not easy to discern a dominating harmony. There is music here, angelic or devilish, but hardly earthly” (6 July 1933)
For the full review, see Wormwood.  Here, however, I'd like to share the dust-wrappers of the UK and US editions.  Here is the front cover of the Martin Secker edition (London).  The flaps are blank (save for a price at the bottom of the front flap), and the rear shows only a list of five titles of "Latest Fiction" published by Secker.  There is nothing descriptive of the book--no attempt to sell it via description. 

The American edition, published in 1934 by William Morrow, copies the same woodcut illustration on the front cover, adding a blurb on the front flap (which erroneously identifies Phyllis Paul as aged 23, when in 1934 she would be turning 31).  The rear flap and the rear of the dust-wrapper highlight other books published by Morrow:

Interestingly, Paul's second novel, The Children Triumphant, published by Martin Secker in 1934 (it had no American edition), repeats the same woodcut as cover illustration, but adds some description of the book on the front flap and some quotes from reviews of her first novel on the read flap. Paul's next novel did not appear until 1949, fifteen years later. 

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