As the paperback release of LTTLE CENTURY nears, I’m revisiting some of the cooler conversations I had with folks last year when it was released in hardcover. This one was fun, with the lovely Miwa Messer at Barnes and Noble.
The Little Century paperback cover, designed by the talents at Picador Books, thrills me. It emphasizes different aspects of the book than the hardcover, which shows the big golden threatening desert of Central Oregon and a woman on horseback, small against it; this new cover puts the figure of Esther Chambers, the protagonist, front and center against a backdrop of Old West townscape. The figure of Esther is not complete, as Esther herself is not complete until the end of the novel, and the incomplete figure looks to be in motion, turning, or buffeted by wind. The saturated colors of her dress suggest not only her mourning status, but also her developing depth of character, and the relative elegance of her outfit reflects her more eastern, outsider status in the West. Yet on her hands she wears work gloves, men’s gloves, which seeds the idea that this young woman is turning her hand to unfamiliar work in the demanding, thorny environment of Century, Oregon. At first sight of the illustration, I thought, oh, no, she has man hands. But she does have work to do: physical, emotional, and moral. I’m no end tickled to have the book attired with such skill and care.