Monday, 24 March 2008

The cover of Daphne

I've been getting some lovely responses to the jacket of "Daphne" -- thanks to its championing by dovegreyreader (to whom I am hugely grateful). So I thought I'd write a bit more about it here. I knew that I wanted the book to look like an old one -- from the time when novels had cloth jackets. Originally, my publisher, Bloomsbury, thought about actually doing that -- but apparently it was too difficult (nowhere to put the jacket information that is crucial in selling books nowadays). Instead, I talked to the designer at Bloomsbury, Sarah Morris, about giving the book a period feel with a woodcut illustration. And then she found the illustrator, Alison Lang, and Alison and I had a long talk on the phone about the mood of the book. I sent her the first three chapters to read, and also gave her some photographs of Menabilly, the house where Daphne du Maurier lived, which was the inspiration for Manderley in Rebecca, and I described to her the woods that surround Menabilly (which I have been fortunate enough to visit). Like the overgrown, tangled grounds of Manderley, they feel like an enchanted forest.
We also talked about the links between "Rebecca" and "Jane Eyre" -- the flames that flicker through both novels -- and out of all these conversations, she came up with the perfect illustration. It also felt very appropriate that it has the feel of a woodcut -- a tactile reminder of the Menabilly/Manderley forest...
Anyway, I think Bloomsbury has done a brilliant job with the cover, and I'm so pleased that readers are responding to something that looks, and feels, entirely different to most other contemporary books, but neither is it a period pastiche (there is a definite modernity to the watchful figure of the girl in front of Menabilly -- a reference to the nameless modern narrator in the novel).

10 comments:

Bront√ęBlog Adm. said...

I too love the cover and think Alison Lang has made a brilliant job. It's a great combination of all you talked about and manages to bring capture the book.Thanks for telling the story behind it. (Also, I recall when the book first appeard on Amazon a couple of years ago the cover was slightly different, wasn't it? Like a previous version or something.)

What gives the book a classic look as well is the ribbon/bookmark. I collect bookmarks but I love books that include ribbons.

Cristina from Bront√ęBlog.

Justine Picardie said...

You're right about the ribbon -- the ribbon of red (very Jane Eyre, don't you think?). Thanks for visiting me!

Table Talk said...

I'm interested to read that you had so much say in your cover and I really hope this is a growing trend. I went to hear Clare Morrall talk about her new novel 'The Language of Others' last week and she was saying that she had had more say this time than had been the case in the past. The cover that she has finished up with is great; the one that was suggested sounded totally inappropriate. I know that in theory the publishers have more experience of what sells, but it is, after all, your book.

Justine Picardie said...

I'm also very lucky to have a publisher that is so good at designing covers, and interpreting an author's ideas. It's something that Bloomsbury are excellent at. But I've always been concerned about the covers of my books, whoever has published them. Because whatever the saying, people DO judge a book by its cover!
Thanks for your interesting comment abut Clare Morrall. I wish I was coming to Birmingham to do an event, so that we could meet. The closest I get is the Oxford Literary Festival, next week (April 3rd), which isn't very close at all...

dovegreyreader said...

Mine must be a ribbonless second edition but that's good news for you Justine, is the book being reprinted already? I saw a first edition in a bookshop in Kingsbridge last week and apart from the ribbon I noticed a very lovely subtle shade of aqua-greenish endpapers which complemented the red perfectly. I also like the way you can suddenly link up an artist's work. I went to Alison Lang's website via the Bronteblog and realised that I recognised a lot of it and will now spot it in future.

Justine Picardie said...

That's interesting, that the second edition is ribbonless -- and yes, it has been reprinted already (possibly twice). So somehow, we must get you a first edition with a ribbon!

Kirsty said...

I found my way here via Dovegrey Reader, and just wanted to add my voice to those praising the cover. It is absolutely stunning. I saw it in Blackwell's a few days ago and it grabbed my attention immediately. Between that and hearing you talk about the book on Open Book the other week, 'Daphne' has whizzed to the top of my list of books to buy!

Justine Picardie said...

Kirsty -- thank you so much for getting in touch. If you can -- and if Blackwells still have them in stock -- try to get a first edition, as they have the lovely scarlet ribbon and special end-papers. As dovegreyreader noticed, the second print run doesn't have these lovely little extras. Which makes the first edition all the more special, and worth getting hold of, while it's still around.
Hope you'll come back here soon!

Elaine said...

The cover reminds me very much of a Gwen Raverat woodcut. I love that style and any book with a cover like this will attract my attention as well as the Bronte connection - as a Bronte fiend this is a marriage made in heaven

Justine Picardie said...

Elaine -- I really hope 'Daphne' lives up to your expectations.