Friday Faceoff – There’ll be blue skies over the white cliffs of Dover… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffWWIIcovers


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 being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week I am electing to play my FREEBIE card, as today is the 75th Anniversary of V.E. Day. There were to be widespread celebrations throughout the country today – but we all know what happened to those plans… Nonetheless, I want to mark it by featuring a book by one of my all-time favourite authors – Requiem for a Wren by Nevil Shute. It broke my heart when I first read this book as a teenager, and it still holds a special place in my soul.

This offering was produced by Vintage Classics in September 2009. It has the advantage of at least being clear and with the styling, gives a flavour of the 1940s and as most of the action takes place in 1944, that is a plus. I also like the fact that her dog is featured on the cover. It isn’t my favourite, but it is at least a contender. There are some truly dreadful covers for this book, which I decided not to inflict upon you.


Published by William Morrow, this edition is listed under the US title The Breaking Wave. I’m guessing they changed the title, because it’s likely that Americans wouldn’t know that Wrens are the female branch of the Navy, though they didn’t get to serve on ships during combat alongside their male colleagues during WWII. This cover is my favourite. I love the styling and the artwork, which is spot on for the period – that duffle coat and hairstyle, for instance. And once again, we have Janet’s dog on the cover. This actually is taken from a scene in the book and is my favourite.


This edition, published in August 2010 by Vintage International, is a split cover, featuring a gun turret on a battleship (I think) in the upper half and a romantic moment between Janet and the love of her life, Bill, in the lower half. To be honest, I think this cover is a bit of a mess. I don’t know why the font had to be quite so large and blocky and blast across the artwork so intrusively – almost as if the designers are trying to cover it up.


This edition, published in June 2018 by Createspace, is a fairly typical self-published cover. It’s not dreadful, but it isn’t that brilliant either and that is clearly some random photo of the time, completely unrelated to the book. The font, in particular, lets it down as it all but disappears in thumbnail.


This edition, published by House of Stratus in July 2002, is another clumsy effort. I’m guessing in amongst the artful blurring and sparkles (goodness knows what that is supposed to represent) that Janet is in uniform and staring out to sea. I quite like the tones, but why on earth anyone thought it a good idea to use a wussy font like that to run right across the middle of the artwork, I can’t imagine. Needless to say, the title and Shute’s name are completely invisible in thumbnail. Has anyone else read this hauntingly beautiful book? And which cover is your favourite?

23 responses »

  1. Ugh, what happened to this poor book?! I honestly want to know what publisher thought a Createspace cover is okay for a long-standing published work. Yes, that Breaking Wave is RIDICULOUS–a tank?! I guess Americans equate tanks to war…(as an American, I can concur that unless one reads up or knows history, they’d never know about the Wrens, but that doesn’t excuse negating the Navy’s presence from the cover. Americans DO know what a Navy is, and it ain’t tanks!) Your favorite cover reminds me of something I read as a kid…Diary of Charlotte? Oh! The True confessions of Charlotte Doyle. But you know, I rather like that first cover–reminds me of Art Deco. If there’d been a smidge more done with the blue space, I think it’d be a winner!

    • I think that is a gun turret on a destroyer rather than a tank – but as Himself pointed out – it is an American destroyer (I wouldn’t have known the difference…) Yes – that first cover is visually very striking, isn’t it?

      • Oooooh. Okay, at least it’s a Naval vessel, but doesn’t that figure they Americanized it! And yes, I really love the style of that first cover.

      • It’s got a cool uncluttered look that works well.

        And I’m guessing they Americanised it because it was easier to get hold of:))

    • It is a lovely story… but a bit of a heartbreaker, so you might want to choose your moment to plunge into this one. He is a wonderful writer and sadly, seems to have fallen out of favour, which is a shame.

  2. I haven’t read this book, but now I’m interested, Sarah! I like both the first two covers, but will have to go with the first. I typically don’t care as much for books where the full faces are shown. I’d rather use my imagination as to how the characters look. Dogs are okay:)

    • Glad you approve of the dog, Becky:)). It is a lovely story – he is the chap that wrote A Town Like Alice, which is his most famous book, I think. That’s another cracking read about WWII, but set in the Far East.

  3. Thank goodness I went back and read the captions. Maybe because I was under the weather, I thought, I must be perverse today, I don’t like any of them!

  4. I think I like the first cover , can’t explain it , it just appeals to me.
    Also putting this on my TBR list , coz I’m interested

    • Yes – it’s a very effective design, Katherine and if I hadn’t fallen hook, line and sinker for the first cover, it would have been my choice.

    • Yes – I think the first two are the strongest contenders and given it was V.E. Day and I don’t read graphic novels, it seemed the obvious choice…

  5. I totally should have thought of something for ve day – kicking myself now. I love your choice but I simply have to go with the first cover – because my dog seems to be standing on there so I can’t resist – plus, this cover almost looks like a cover for a graphic novel.
    Lynn 😀

    • Oh, don’t do that! It’s always tricky to keep up with all the anniversaries, etc – I had a specific reason for knowing about this particular day. As for the first cover – it’s definitely the favourite this week, which is fine, because it is stylish and eye-catching. I hadn’t thought about it looking like a suitable cover for a graphic novel, but now you mention it – you’re absolutely right! Who knew I’d killed two birds with one stone, eh?

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