Friday Faceoff – Mirror, mirror on the wall… #Brainfluffbookblog

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the theme this week featuring on any of our covers is the word QUEEN. I’ve selected Queen Lucia – Book 1 of the Mapp and Lucia novels by E.F. Benson.

 

This edition was produced by Wildside Press in August 2003. I think the figure raising the crown to her head is particularly apt, given the content, but the rest of it is just wrong. This book charts the power struggle of two society figures striving to be the arbiter of taste and culture in a small ex-pat community. It’s all about light and brightness – harshly so at times… So why anyone thought a gloomy old offering like this would work is beyond me. They haven’t even got the font right.

 

Published in February 1984 by Black Swan Books, this cover is far more appropriate. I love this depiction of a key scene in the book which brings out the period detail and I’m pleased to see the font is spot on. My one niggle is that border which cramps the lovely artwork, adding nothing to the period detail or appeal of the cover.

 

This Spanish edition, published by Impedimenta in September 2011 is beautiful. I love the stylised scene. Whereas the previous cover is crowded with lots going on, this is far more stripped back, featuring the two beautifully dressed women. The detail of the light fitting on the wall adds to the period feel and the colouring and design is sheer class. However the title and author fonts are too small and in the wrong font.

 

This edition, produced by Harper Perennial in March 1987 has nailed the period feel. We have Her Majesty seated on her throne in all her glory, while the border detail and font are all part of the design and add to the appeal of the cover, rather than feeling like an afterthought. I would have liked that wonderful image to dominate more, though.

 

This Italian edition has it all. The beautifully dressed woman, with her hand on her hip and dressed to kill, glares out at us, taking no prisoners. The colour scheme is bright and beautiful, the detailing wonderful. Those pillars framing the image are spot on, giving the artwork that 1920s outline. And the title and author text is the right size, right font and in the right place. This is my favourite – but what do you think? Do you agree with me?

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32 responses »

    • Thank you, Laura! I know it’s a long way from my usual fare of SFF – but it came up on my Goodreads search for queens, and as I have both watched the TV series and heard the books, I couldn’t resist the covers when I looked them up:)).

    • Thank you, Tammy. I, too, loved the Spanish cover – but in the end it had to be the Italian cover. The book is a period piece, and is definitely an acquired taste but I do have a soft spot for all that social pretension when I’m in the right mood.

  1. I like the Spanish edition but if feels like it’s trying to be a picture instead of a cover – like the title and author are being squirrelled away. I like it but I prefer your choice which takes full centre stage.
    Lynn 😀

    • Yes – I was very tempted with the Spanish cover, but the point of a cover is to advertise the book – and it’s difficult to do if you have to read the title with a microscope…

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Sarah! Your favorite cover is my choice, as well! The whole composition if just perfect, and the woman’s pose and dress are definitely just right for the time period. I also LOVE the pattern on the wall behind her, as well as the Art Deco font for the title and author’s name.

    The Harper Perennial cover is my second favorite. The one niggle (love that word!) I have is the woman’s right hand. I don’t like the wimpy way she’s holding it. Lol. But the rest of the cover elements are also perfect for the time period.

    The Black Swan cover is in third place. I do think it has captured the period feel. Hmmm….maybe it’s tied for second place. Lol.

    As for the Spanish cover….the small size of the font used for the title, author’s name, and translator’s name, just ruins it for me. And, as you have stated, the font is ALL wrong!

    That gloomy Wildside Press cover is completely off-track! It looks more like a cover for “Macbeth”, or “Hamlet”, rather than for this novel! WHAT was the publisher thinking?!

    Thanks for sharing these covers!! And I loved reading your comments on each! HUGS!! ❤ 🙂

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to go through each one, giving your opinions and feedback, Maria:).

      Cover design has become an increasingly interesting (and vital!) interest of mine, given I’ve learnt the hard way just how much a poor cover can affect sales – and what a difference a much better cover makes. So I REALLY appreciate you taking the time to let me know what you think, given I know this is also a subject that interests you and you are knowledgeable about.xxx

  3. Ah, I’m reminded of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers with these covers. You’re absolutely right about that first one–it feels like they looked for some classic image in a search result of “queen” and ran with it without looking at the story itself. That third cover, though, wins me over. I agree about the font–maybe if they took the font of the second book for the third cover…because I like the multiple characters over the single woman. There’s a chemistry there, especially with the man in the background looking down, uncertain…

    • Yes – you’re right about that aspect of the cover, Jean. And given this is a book about a power struggle between two women, it probably works best to have both women featured on the cover. It also happens to be stunning, which doesn’t hurt:)

      • ‘Tis! It makes the Great Depression impact all the more striking in the 30s. It’s so hard to believe there was a shift from Victorian styles to the Roaring 20s styles…I remember looking for that shift once, and I couldn’t quite see where it happened. It must have been as crazy stark as America going from 80s neon and hair band flashiness to 90s flannel and grunge band dirtiness…

      • World War I happened… Those who were shattered or bereaved tipped the upcoming generation into a giddy sense that they needed to grab hold of life with both hands after years of drabness, fear and mourning… That’s how my grandmother described it to me once – and she was a 1920s flapper…

      • OOOOOH. Hmmm. You know, I wonder if I didn’t think of that because, being an American, WWI didn’t have the lasting social impact this side of the Atlantic as it did on your side. (all conflicts seem exceedingly far away from the Midwest, honestly. Hmm, feels like there’s a post in that somewhere…) But I can see your grandmother’s point–after the waves of death of trench warfare, grabbing on to life with both hands is a must. x

      • WWI cut a swathe through that generation. If you visit almost any town or village throughout the country, you will find a memorial listing the names of the young men who died and it’s always shockingly long.

      • Damn… Memorials here don’t even always mention names, just “Those Who Served.” There’s no depth, no sense of scope. Just–Hey, there were veterans here.

      • Oh no! What a shame:((. I love looking at the names on War Memorials – there is one in the town where I live and the neighbouring town where I shop. They are planted up with flowers and invariably have a poppy wreath on the plinth. As 2018 is the 100th anniversay of the end of WWI, life-sized statues of soldiers have been appearing on roadside verges and a variety of sites around the area.

      • Well… I wouldn’t claim that we’ve done a marvellous job over the years at looking after the poor souls who have returned from various wars shattered in body and spirit, either!

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