Friday Faceoff – The Color Purple…


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is the one we prefer. This week the theme is purple covers, so I’ve chosen Mendoza in Hollywood – Book 3 of The Company novels by Kage Baker, which happens to be one of my favourite books of all time.


This cover produced by Tor Books in April 2007 is the purple one and is definitely my favourite. Although I’m a tad allergic to having such a strong protagonist featured on the cover as my mental picture isn’t anything like this, I’ll forgive that as all the other main elements of the book are reasonably accurately represented here. I particularly like the depiction of the unspoilt countryside before Hollywood becomes established and so many plants are lost.


This offering was produced by Tor Books in May 2006 and is another strong contender. I do prefer this version of Mendoza, who I think did dress up as a saloon girl in some of their evening entertainments, if my memory serves me well.


This earlier edition, produced by Eos in July 2001, is where it all starts to go wrong. While the artwork and overall design is subtle and detailed with lots of allusions to the content, the whole effect is ruined when some bright spark decides to write the equivalent of chapter one across the top of the cover in white against the black background. Immediately this is where our gaze is drawn to, rather than the clever design.


Produced in March 2003 by Mondadori, this Italian edition is clearly going for a retro look harking back to the science fiction covers of the 1960s and 70s. I think it’s a shame the design only covers a relatively small circle in the middle of the white expanse, given the quirky subject matter and once again, the cover design is blighted by that ugly block splatted across the top. What about you – which is your favourite?

25 responses »

  1. What a curious selection here! I can’t think of the last time you’ve had such a vast array of styles for a title. I’d say the second feels the most…consistent? Is that one way to put it?

    • Yes, I think that’s fair. That said, it is an unusual book – one of the reasons why I loved it so much – and it also pushed the envelope. So I can see why the cover designers were somewhat at a loss. I’d like to think these days, they would go for an image that described one of the themes… Thank you for your input, Jean. I always look forward to seeing what you make of my Friday selection – have a great week-end, my friendx

  2. I have to say I think this is the first time none of the covers have appealed to me. They are all so busy. The Italian version is probably the one I would pick up.

  3. I agree with your choice, Sarah. We say not to judge a book by its cover, but this is the only cover that would tempt me to read what’s inside. I think it’s to do with its Hollywood-y film-poster epic look. The others look as if they are advertising historic fiction or an intellectual treatise.

    • Hi Christine – I hope all is well with you:)). Yes, in fairness, this is a very difficult book to pin down – set in the period before Hollywood is even a glimmer, but on the same site – Mendoza is sent to collect specimens that will shortly become extinct in that state due to the sudden influx of people wishing to make films. And there is also a lot about the nature of nostalgia and an extended extra from a classic black and while film…

    • That’s okay, Rash. I needed to find a purple cover – and as this is such a firm favourite, I immediately leapt at showcasing this particular book. However, truth to tell, it was more about my recollection of the content rather than the quality of the covers…

    • Yes… it’s certainly got quite a strong blue tinge to it, hasn’t it? I’ve got this cover on the book and it does look quite purple – which I suppose is another reason why I like it. Hope you have a good week-end, Rae:)

    • I think The Company novels is a fabulous series and unlike anything I’ve ever read. To be honest, the last couple do lapse into some silliness – but I’ll forgive Baker that for providing some sublime moments throughout this really amazing series – and this is my favourite book. Though I do know it’s a real Marmite read.

    • It’s a time-travelling thriller, where The Company snatch unwanted children, immortalise them and essentially turn them into slaves to travel both forward and backwards in time to collect priceless objects of art about to be destroyed or biological specimens about to become extinct, which they then sell at hugely inflated prices. Mendoza is one of these workers – and the series follows what happens to her… It’s not to everyone’s taste, but I absolutely loved the premise and the first four books are stormingly good – admittedly the series got a tad silly towards the end, but nonetheless, I still enjoyed it.

  4. Purple can be such a great color. My favorite is the first one, but I understand your dislike of the protag’s face since it doesn’t match your image. I find it frustrating when books change covers after I’ve read them and the new cover has a person on it because I’ve already made my own image at that point.

  5. I pretty much agree with you, though the first two covers don’t really grab me, they are the best of the bunch.
    The third one… I think the word “hideous” doesn’t even begin to cover it (excuse my pun-attempt). I’ve seen similar covers on the Lousy Bookcovers site (which features ugly designs of self-published books).

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