on November 13, 2002
'Lady Cottington's Fairy Album' is in every way the sequel to 'Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book'. I have owned the original for quite a while, and news of a sequel from Brian Froud's official site was enough for me to preorder it. I've had it for a few days now and amd glad to report that its one of those rare literary pieces that seem to get better with age.
The first book introduced us to Lady Angelica Cottington, a teenager who can see and interact with fairies. Her experiences are all chronicled in gory detail, with Angelica 'pressing' fairies between pages of her diary. The end of the first book wasn't really an ending - it left the door wide open for a sequel, and thats to be expected.
This book deals with Euphemia Cottington, the sister of Angelica Cottington, who was separated from her family soon after Angelica's birth, for reasons no one seems to know. Angelica stumbles upon her sister's old diary, and she reviews each of her sister's journal entries in her OWN diary. This entire work forms 'Lady Cottington's Fairy Album'. The book has been very neatly designed. The page on the left is Euphemia's original diary entry; the page on the right contains Angelica's thoughts on what her sister had written on the opposite page. The concept is rather amazing, considering that we're actually getting TWO Fairy albums, from two different authors, but here it is. Thus it follows, page after page of diary entries by Euphemia, immediately followed by Angelica's commentary.
The background still remains pressed fairies, if you were wondering. They pretty much look the same, but there are a few new fairy varieties which reaffirm that the artist Brian Froud hasn't lost his touch for other-world art. In particular, I was fascinated by the handwriting of the two girls. Euphemia's is very studied and almost Victorian, while Angelica's is more exuberant and curly - that a book of this sort could spell out personality differences through subtle tools such as this is a joy to behold.
It certainly pays to be very well informed about the original book before you read this. Its been constructed in such a way that a new reader would probably be confused by certain references and veiled remarks by a few of the characters. Angelica retains her usual brazenness and quick wit, yet she is as ever pitiably naive about men and the various vicars that show interest in her. The language she uses is indeed very English, in a regional sense of the word. Her frustration with the fairies that formed the hilarious part of Book 1 is carried over here, when she seems even more aggravated and irritated by them than she ever has.
Unfortunately for her, her sister Euphemia has no such qualms about cheerily mingling with the fairy folk, and the humor of this book lies in Angelica's entries where she berates her sister's seemingly unpardonable activities - most of which are actually rather innocent acts, such as dancing with the fairies on a full moon. The star of the show is still Angelica, despite the advertising surrounding this new book that hails Euphemia as the heir to the Cottington legacy. However, this book contains something that the First did not - two things to be exact - a love story, and a family secret. I couldn't possibly ruin your experience by telling you what these are, but when you reach the end of the book, theres a special treat awaiting you that makes up for any misgivings you may have had about the series.
'Lady Cottington's Fairy Album' has a few wonderful additions that make it a 'must-have' for anyone who is interested in books that will stand the test of time. First, there is a beautiful black and white photograph of a fairy (said to be a real being) holding a baby (the photograph ties strongly to the plot). Its made of quality paper with an inscription at the back and is attached inside the book. Then theres the deal that is the climax - the last page holds a sealed letter that holds the key to the entire saga of the Cottingtons. Open the letter and read it only once you've read the whole book. This is VERY important or you'll end up ruining a perfectly lovely reading experience. Once you're done you can reseal the letter in its' envelope for the next reading. Beautiful work here by the designing minds behind the project.
If you're a fan of graphic art, wonderful storytelling, and especially fairy art, its a no brainer that you should pick this up at once. It builds very deeply upon the basis set by Book 1, and in many cases it outshines the original. The thing I liked best about it was that it had so much substance. This is NOT a small or short book. On the contrary, it contains so many pages and so much art that it demanded an entire night to be thoroughly reviewed and relished. The paper used here is very different from Book 1. The paper here is matted and glossy, yet retains an old world charm about it. The cover and jacket are hard-bound, and purposely 'aged' for effect. There are also seals on it indicating it to be part of the Cottington Estate. At the end of the book, there is a seal from a book and antique dealer who has reportedly reviewed the book in its' original form and deemed it 'worthless'!! It is this attention to detail and respect for the reader that makes this book a winner!
I highly recommend this book as its one of those things you could share with almost anyone, and it makes a fine addition to your private library. It will hold up in years to come, and if you're especially interested in investing in books that will stand the test of time, this one should be your first choice! If you liked this, do check out Brian Froud and Jessica Macbeth's 'Fairy Oracle' reading set (another must-have), and the original Cottington book. These are books you can grow old with!