Game of Thrones cover re-branded as commercial women’s fiction
I was really interested to see the backlash against mainstream publishers who package fiction by women as commercial, women’s interest fiction in saccharine pink covers while promoting fiction on similar subjects by men as literary fiction, even though the writing is of the same quality covering similar themes.
Maureen Johnson lead the charge, asking her twitter followers to create covers for books by famous male author which flipped the author’s gender and thus rendered the writing “commercial” rather than “literary” in the eyes of many publishers. You can see some of the best results here.
I think Jodi Picoult expressed the stupidity of the double standard perfectly in this tweet:
I came across this story after reading a tweet by Marina Fiorato who wrote The Venetian Contract which had a similar cover positioning issue that I commented on when I reviewed the book. The Guardian picked up the story and discusses some other worrying decisions that publishers have made when designing book covers here.
What’s the worst cover design issue that you’ve come across?
A few years ago, my grandmother gave her copy of a book by her favourite artist to her friend while she was in hospital to cheer her up. Sadly, her friend then died. My grandmother always talks about how much she loved the book and how much the pictures used to make her laugh, so for Christmas, despite knowing very little about art, I resolved to track down a copy for her.
It was surprisingly easy. I just did a quick search for “artists who paint fat ladies” and Beryl Cook’s name came up along with some very familiar looking paintings of fat ladies.
It was great to see how much my grandmother enjoyed looking at those paintings again. And an added bonus came when she was looking at the book with my very prudish boyfriend and a picture of a chubby lady in suspenders brandishing a whip turned up. I only wish I’d managed to capture the look on his face when she turned to him, with an innocent smile and asked, “Do you like being whipped, Jon?”
Old ladies, they think they can get away with anything!
If you’re the kind of person who appreciates the joys of paper and ink in a digital age, head over to Hickory Nines and read this fantastic post by my colleague Lisa. It’s a lovely read and I think you’ll agree that she has a wonderful way with words.
I loved the above post on Anni Cardi’s blog, which links you to a charity Doedemee selling posters of redesigned book covers to help raise money to fight illiteracy.
Guess where I’m shopping this month! I think I’ll probably get the Wuthering Heights design for myself, because it’s completely gorgeous AND one of my favourite books.
The posters for Alice’ Adventures in Wonderland, Anna Karenina, Wind in the Willows, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atonement and Northern Lights are also amazing. I might ask for some for my birthday/Christmas.
Lucille Turner’s debut novel Gioconda imagines the untold story of Leonardo da Vinci, the original Renaissance Man, from his upbringing as the bastard child of a notary, through his training as an artist, fleshing out the facts of history to explain why the Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda, was never delivered to the family who commissioned it and was instead inherited by one of Leonardo da Vinci’s pupils upon his death.
The novel is fluidly written, with few historical markers making it hard for the reader to judge at exactly which point in history the narrative occurs which aids the author in condensing the events of what is potentially a fifty year period into a relatively short novel, and allows the reader to focus on the polymath’s genius rather than on incident. For me, that’s where the difficulty of this beautifully written novel lies, the author seems to be trying to force a love story out of a true story which is already brilliant. For me, the intrigue in this novel was learning about Leonardo’s dissections and studies which were considered heretical and very dangerous- his relationship with Lisa seemed almost incidental. His character was too focussed on his work and too rational to make the desire to paint Lisa convincing, or the ending of the novel, which links back to the opening chapter, satisfactory. The Leonardo of the opening chapter and the Leonardo of the rest of the book seemed like two very different characters.
Gioconda is a good read, but not a great read. The strength of the novel lies in colourful descriptions of da Vinci’s artistic and scientific works. So while Turner’s attempts to convince me of a relationship between Leonardo and Lisa may not have been wholly successful, I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for a really nice edition of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks.
Check out this portrait of Emily Bronte which is up for auction. She’s so beautiful, though I’m not sure how realistic it can be- I’ve never seen eyes like that outside a Disney film. If I were rich and had a suitable wall to hang it on, I’d definitely be tempted!
Alice in Wonderland seems to be very much in vogue at the moment, as evidenced by the exhibition at Tate Liverpool. You can check out some of the images on display on the BBC website. I’m afraid that’s all I’ll be able to do while this exhibition lasts, since as my operation and two week hospital stay starts tomorrow, little short of holding a nurse hostage is going to get me there.
I might just have to get my private Alice collection out to make it up to myself. If you’re very good I might share them with you.
For me the John Tenniel illustrations remain the best.
I had the afternoon off work on Monday after visiting an author in London and before going to watch Penn and Teller Fool Us being filmed (it was amazing) so I popped to the V and A for a browse.
I especially liked the Medieval Europe section which had a massive light filled room filled with Italian and French religious sculptures, huge doors etc. but in a darker room I found these sexy little beasts. Sorry the quality isn’t great, I took them on my phone and obviously didn’t want to use my flash.
Some nice illumination in these medieval books
I wrote a post the other day about my first favourite book, and I was saying that part of what I liked was that the pictures allowed me to tell myself the stories even before I was able to read. It seems that medieval artists had a similar idea because these ivory carvings show stories from the Bible to help illiterate worshippers access the stories.
Scenes depicting bible stories
But being a bit of a magpie, what really caught my eye was….
The manuscript dates from 1025-1050 AD and was said to be a gift to Sion Cathedral from the Emperor Charlemagne, so they decided to honour it by blinging it up in this gold, enamel and jewel binding around 1180-1200. Amazing.
I’m not a philatelist (stamp collector, but how cool is that word?) though I did once buy the royal mail Dracula and Frankenstein stamps to decorate my diary. I was about 9 at the time, and stamp prices weren’t quite as ridiculous as they are now. It was a short lived obsession, and while I do appreciate a nice stamp, stamps are not a major obsession for me.
However, I think I might be forced to rethink this after a colleague in work showed me these amazing book related stamps on The Royal Mail website.
Fantasy Stamps- Magical Realms
Nostalgic Stamps- Winnie-the-Pooh
I don’t know if I mentioned that I’ve decided it might be time for me to go back to old fashioned correspondace, but I have started sending a lot of letters to my friends living elsewhere, because who doesn’t love a proper letter? I think I might have to buy these.