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 annoy me. I’ve selected Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller.
This edition was produced by Tin House Books in March 2015. I believe that as well as being attractive to attract readers, a successful book cover should provide an accurate clue as to what sort of story it represents. However this one – and the covers below – lamentably fail in that vital task. The girl in this story simply looks quirky, while the design and very simple, pared-back artwork have a light-hearted feel. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the prose is often beautiful, the story is a dark one and has haunted me since I read it. And the cover doesn’t give any inkling of that – other than a figure made up of dots looming over her, who could merely be her imaginary friend.
Published in March 2015 by Anansi International, this beautiful cover is eye-catching and tempting – but there isn’t so much as a hint of what a harrowing read this is. And yes – I’m really angry about it. For once, straplines that regularly are plastered across a cover would be helpful – so where are they? In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be any harm in being plunged into a book that takes us completely out of our comfort zone. But this story encompasses kidnapping, coercion, mental, physical and sexual abuse – and just because it is wrapped up in stunning prose and happens in the heart of a beautiful wilderness doesn’t lessen the impact for an unwary reader who might be triggered.
This Czech edition, published in February 2017 by Argo, has also decided to go for a simple design, without giving any of its readers any clue as to the content. There isn’t anything on that cover except the title and author’s name. And, that isn’t sufficient information to safeguard a reader, who thinks they are getting a book about a rustic idyll.
This Italian edition, produced by Mondadori in February 2016, is even more misleading. It depicts young Peggy, well wrapped up, playing in the snow. And yes… the book does describes the beauty of the woods in winter in poetical terms. But that doesn’t hide the fact that the child is having to cope with losing everyone she knows and loves, other than her father. And spend large tracts of time foraging just to survive in freezing conditions with an increasingly delusional man.
This edition, published by Penguin in February 2015, is perhaps the closest cover of my selection to hinting at the darker side of this book. The black backdrop with the white scratched drawing and title is full of impact, as well as literally depicting the tone. But even so, I looked at that ‘little house on the Prairie’ hut and wasn’t fully aware of how disturbing I would find this offering. Luckily, while I found it shocking and it is etched on my memory – it hasn’t caused me any harm. But there are readers who shouldn’t touch this one with a bargepole. And I’m frankly disgusted that there isn’t any warning whatsoever on the cover to prevent them from unknowingly picking this book up. What about you – have you ever picked up a book whose cover suggested one story, only to discover that you’re reading something completely different?