Friday Faceoff – If you want something in Life – reach out and grab it… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffgrabbycovers


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 covers that made us want to grab the book. I’ve selected The Mirror and the Light – Book 3 of the Thomas Cromwell series by Hilary Mantel, which I loved – see my review.

Henry Holt & Co, March 2021

This edition was produced by Henry Holt and Co in March 2020, and is attractive and appropriate. I really like the simplicity of the design, with the thorny branches roaming through the title font and the single Tudor rose featured in the middle of the cover. If I hadn’t already immediately lost my heart to another particular cover, then this would have been my favourite. My main niggle with this one is that although Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are both mentioned, nowhere on this cover does it tell us that this is the third book in the series – which I think is vital information that readers need to know.

Picador, May 2021

Expected in May this year by Picador, I have found that this cover has grown on me. Initially I didn’t like it much – turning half the cover into a textbox is never going to find favour with me as I don’t like them. But I appreciate that this cover gives the reader all the necessary details, while that image of Thomas Cromwell, reproduced from the famous portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger, is surprisingly effective. Fracturing it like that gives a sense of a distorted reflection – and a sober foreshadowing of Cromwell’s fate.

Fourth Estate, March 2020

This edition, published by Fourth Estate in March 2020, is my favourite. Yes… I know there is nothing in this design that remotely references the life and times of Thomas Cromwell in any way. And I know that this cover doesn’t bother to tell the read that this is the third book in the series… And that while the author and title fonts are wonderfully clear – rather oddly, they have right-hand justification, rather than being centred. But the minute I laid eyes on this particular design, I yearned to have this book.

HarperCollins, March 2020

This edition, produced by HarperCollins in March 2020, is overwhelmingly dreary. That gradation from funereal black around the edges through to misery blue in the middle gives no sense of the vividness of the prose and the three-dimensional depiction of a cast of extraordinary characters during one of the most interesting and tumultuous periods in English history.

Turkish edition, January 2021

This Turkish edition, published by Alfa Yayınları in January 2021, is another strong offering. I like the fact the artwork features part of a family portrait by Holbein which includes Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. Because in the latter part of his reign, apart from indulging in disastrous and expensive wars, Henry was obsessed with the question of his succession. It shaped both the foreign and domestic policy of the country and ultimately brought about the downfall of Cromwell, though there were also other factors as this book makes clear. I also like the textbox being in the shape of the Tudor rose. Which is your favourite?

20 responses »

  1. I agree, that Fourth Estate edition is my favorite as well, even though it doesn’t really tell you much about the book. I can see why you picked it!

    • Thank you Tammy – because I absolutely agree. It’s not remotely helpful about the book! But I looked at it and then knew I NEEEEEEDED to read that book:)).

    • Yes – it’s the colour combination that I fell in love with – and decided to go for a cover that was allll about how I felt, rather than how practical it is…

  2. I have only ever seen the first and third covers — and frankly, was quite underwhelmed by them. The cover for Wolf Hall had been so good (the red one with a motif at the centre). Here, I think I like the Turkish edition the best. And agreed on the series, it really is all kinds of awesome. Mantel is a genius.

    • Yes, the Turkish edition has a lot going for it! And glad you enjoyed the series so much – I know it is something of a Marmite read, you either love it or loathe it… And I completely agree that Mantel is a genius:))

  3. You know, your favorite reminds me of the color schemes in Little Golden Books–the brightly gathered colors, like Technicolor schemes, gathered together in waves for the background on which the characters are placed. It’s lovely! I admit it’s strange they didn’t define the third place of this book, too. You’d think that would invite some negative reviews if you don’t clue people in this is NOT a standalone.

    • Yes… you make a really, really strong point about that lack of information compromising the reader experience – and getting punished for it! I think they were relying on this being SUCH a well-known series, that fans of historical thrillers were bound to know of this book. But I do think that’s a lazy way to go!

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