Friday Faceoff – Every great love starts with a story… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffromancecovers


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 we are featuring ROMANCE covers. I’ve selected A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute, which I read as a girl and absolutely loved. I know it’s not a classic love story – but if the hero actually gets himself crucified for the love of his life, that’s got to be romantic, right?

Vintage Classic, Sept 2009

This cover, produced by Vintage Classics in September 2009 is one of the better ones, I think. I like the bright yellow which contrasts well with the black silhouette figures. The juxtaposition of Jean and Joe works really well and I think the Japanese guard in the background also gives a sense of threat. What I don’t like is the lack of contrast between the title font colour and the cover. The title disappears – in fact initially I thought the book was called Vintage Classics…

Ballentine, August 1985

Published in August 1985 by Ballentine, this is an interesting cover. It looks as though the original was painted in watercolours, which gives an oddly insubstantial look to the hero and heroine. I did wonder if this was because the cover had faded over time, but there are several renditions of it on Goodreads, and they all have the same slightly transparent look to the figures. That said, I think it has a rather lovely charm all of its own.

Kindle edition, Jan 2013

This Kindle edition, published in January 2013 is my favourite. I’m guessing that it takes the image from an earlier publication – this book was originally published in 1950 and has been in print ever since – but I really like it. And yes – don’t faint, but I even like the textbox in this one, too. It doesn’t intrude on the powerful images of a very ragged Jean staring straight out at us, as if begging for help. With the terrible procession of women and children who were forced on a death march across Malaya in the background. The lettering really pops against the background and its styling gives a strong sense of the period in which the story is set.

Pan, 1968

Published by Pan in 1968, this cover is so very nearly my favourite. The strong yellow background immediately draws the eye, giving a sense of the heat. I love the grouping of the characters, with Jean hunched and clearly in distress and the Japanese guard scowling in the background. The lettering is bold and clearly shows the title, even in thumbnail. So why isn’t this one my favourite? Because there is something a bit stagey and contrived about the way the woman is sitting forward, ensuring we get a good view of her cleavage.

Dutch edition, 1952

This Dutch edition, published in 1952 by Zuid-Hollandsche Uitgeversmaatschappij, is a cover design inspired by the film of the book. And the Jean Paget looking anxiously over her shoulder is taken straight from the poster featuring Virginia McKenna. The problem with this one is that the textbox in this cover does rather squash the image. And the colours, given that this is set in a tropical country, are curiously cool, so don’t give a sense of the heat. So which one is your favourite?

17 responses »

  1. Each one has its own thing that is compelling. The first one has the yellow showing the heat and the man with the gun in the background showing the edgey-ness of the situation. it’s simple but I like it. I absolutely love the watercolor one–the ethereal nature draws me in, yet there’s nothing that shows the situation is tense. I also like the fourth one but agree about the staged-ness of it with the woman and her cleavage. LOL The third one probably hits the mark the best for me. The heroine in her ragged clothes and sad eyes and the march of the women and children in the background. The last one, I really like the look on the heroine’s face to grab the potential reader and draws us in. But, overall, my favorite because it hits the mark the closest is #3. Thank you for this fun Friday Faceoff! I always enjoy it!

    • Ah, thank you for such a detailed observation of the covers, Wanda – and I’m so glad you enjoy the Friday Face-off series, too. It’s always one of my highlights of the week:))

    • Oh Nevil Shute’s books are a joy! Very readable and highly popular – they have lingered on the bookshelves for a reason. I think this one is his most popular. My favourite, I think, is Requiem for A Wren, but it’s too much of a heartbreak for me to think about right now…

  2. I keep cycling between the second and third cover and don’t know which one to pick up: the watercolor quality of the Ballantine edition is very pleasant to the eye, while the Kindle edition cover speaks loudly about the hardships of the characters. A hard choice indeed…

    • I think my job this week is done:)). There are a number of INDIFFERENT covers for this lovely book and I wanted to select the ones I thought were the best available. So I’m rather thrilled that you cannot decide!

  3. It’s difficult to choose – but I’m pretty much liking the same ones that you did. The first one with such lovely clean lines although I understand your comment about the title. I love your favourite, just the 50s feel and the Pan with the yellow cover.
    Lynn 😀

    • Yes – I did choose the best in the selection. It’s such a lovely book and though I haven’t reread it, I’m pretty confident that it would stand the test of time:))

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