This book is perhaps the most twisted journal out there. I remember discovering it years ago and had forgotten about it since then, only to be redirected to it recently whilst perusing Brian Froud's website. Contrary to what many people think, I do think that this is a book for both adults and children alike, and though there is definitely some adult subject matter, its not something that should keep you from sharing it with your offspring.
The book is a reproduction of a journal kept by Angelica Cottington. Angelica can see fairies, and while she is at first surprised by their presence, she wastes no time in whisking out a journal and trapping fairies within the pages. These 'pressed fairies' are the book's centerpiece. While this may seem a cruel thing to many, Angelica does not seem to feel much remorse until much later in her life, but after a horrendous spell of being teased and mocked by goblins, she takes to pressing fairies with a vengeance once again. This is all positively delightful.
Angelica is obviously thought of as a retarded little specimen by her family and friends, but this only gives her a certain warped magnetism. Indeed, throughout the book, it is clear that a large number of men are interested in Angelica - these portions are rather graphic in their suggestiveness, and things are left open-ended. It is not clear if Angelica is molested or abused by these people, but the way she flees England for Italy due to one particularly painful encounter is hint enough that theres more going on that we aren't told about.
As is with every Froud book, the art is spectacular. The fairies we are told, aren't really 'pressed'. Even though they are momentarily captured, they have a way of leaving their psychic impressions behind on paper. So while you do see pictures of fairies in pain at being stamped on paper, be sure that they have managed to escape. However, what is more intriguing, is that Angelica never did understand this concept. The fairies themselves attempt to tell her, but she doesn't get it. After she passed away, the makers of the book finally announced that the fairies were actually extremely interested in being pressed, as Angelica had unwittingly started a new sport in the fairy community.
The version of the book on sale here is the hardcover edition, and is not either the Turner edition nor the Barnes and Noble edition. I have found that of all the subsequent reprintings, the original Turner edition and its second reprint, have the best colors and printing. There is also a paperback version, and a new small-sized version available. Personally, I think that the best way to enjoy the book is in this oversized hardcover version.
There were two sequels to this book, though they are long out of print. Online stores in Britain still carry them, though. One is the 'Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Journal', which was a diary that you could maintain, with blank pages to fill in, consisting of art on the side from the original Pressed Fairy Book. There is also the 'Strange Stains and Mysterious Smells' book which is written by Angelica's brother Quentin. This book deals, in a very scientific manner, with the stains that fairies leave behind when they are pressed. People have said that this book is rather gross and dependant on 'toilet humor' and that it lacks the delicacy of the original.
I certainly do love books of this sort. They are revolutionary because they break new ground in terms of creativity. And while there are numerous books of this sort now in the market, I think its rather obvious that none hold a candle to the beauty, charm, and wit of 'Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book'.
If you enjoyed this, you would also enjoy 'The Faeries' Oracle' by Jessica Macbeth and Brian Froud. For more information on Lady Cottington and to make a buying decision, please visit [URL]