Reading the Morning Paper

Lydia Cassatt bookI grew up reading newspapers, a habit that I still delight in to this day. We’re fortunate, here in the Upper Valley, to have a strong and vibrant morning newspaper. Even when the Valley News runs a column or a story that agitates, their local news coverage underpins the cohesiveness of our bi-state region in a way that nothing else does.

And for that, I am grateful.

So the cover of this book was destined to make me smile. And then I opened Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper.

This book is a delight to read as well as to hold. I recently read a story in the Guardian of London about the falling level of ebook sales and the accompanying increase in sales of books-on-paper. Among the many points made in the article, it talked about the resurgence of appreciation among readers of well-designed books. This is a good example of the printing arts.

This is a small volume, 5 1/2 x 7 inches and only 164 pages. The paper is a higher grade than the wretched stuff used in schlocky paperback mysteries, giving the reader a little tactile frisson with every turned page.

The cover has French flaps, also called gatefolds, extensions of both the front and back covers that are folded in. I love this style of cover. In summer, when the weather is humid, they keep the cover from curling up and in the hand…well…they just feel so nice.

The type design is airy (lots of space between the lines) and its elegance complements the  author’s poetic prose perfectly. In addition, there are color plates of portraits of Lydia Cassatt inside.

Lydia was the sister of Mary Cassatt, an American painter and printmaker who lived and worked most of her life in France in the late 19th to the early 20th century. Mary exhibited with the Impressionists, painting (mostly) the domestic side of women’s lives. Nowadays, her work is exhibited in galleries around the world and is highly prized.

Lydia, who suffered from Bright’s disease and died in 1882, was one of Mary’s favorite models. This book is a meditation on the sisters’ relationship as well as painting, family, and illness, all told from Lydia’s point of view.

Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper is moving and beautiful, both to read and to hold in your hands and heart. I hope you take the opportunity to read it.