Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, Clarissa Dalloway, Holly Golightly, Daisy Buchanan, Lolita, and more.
When my friend Lisa Congdon and I started our Reconstructionists project — a yearlong illustrated celebration of women who changed the course of history and our understanding of the world — we knew that nearly half of them would end up being women of letters. Now, New-York-based painter and fashion illustrator Samantha Hahn is giving us the literary fiction counterpart to The Reconstructionists in Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction’s Most Beloved Heroines (public library) — a collection of expressive watercolor depictions of such literary icons as Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, Holly Golightly, and Clarissa Dalloway, paired with a memorable quote by each character.
Though some of the typographic renderings could use a bit more love and the quote selections tend to reach for the popular over the profound, the portraits themselves, to which the screen does absolutely no justice here, are breathtaking — sometimes tender, sometimes intense, always thoughtfully evocative of each heroine’s persona and sensibility.
Images courtesy of Chronicle Books