Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cover Clichés: The Barred Bodice

Sometimes, while browsing the virtual shelves on Amazon and Goodreads, I see an image that gives me an oddly disconcerting sense of deja vu. I could swear I've never read the book, but I know I've seen the jacket image somewhere before.

This phenomenon is what inspired Cover Clichés. Images are often recycled because cover artists are often forced to work from a limited pool of stock images and copyright free material. That said, I find comparing their finished designs quite interesting.  

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When Anne Boleyn falls to the executioner’s ax on a cold spring morning in 1536, Anne Seymour knows her family faces peril. As alliances shift and conspiracies multiply, the Seymours plot to establish their place in the treacherous court of King Henry VIII, where a courtier’s fate is decided by the whims of a hot-tempered and fickle monarch. Lady Anne’s own sister-in-law, Jane Seymour, soon takes Anne Boleyn’s place as queen. But if Jane cannot give King Henry a son, history portends that she, too, will be executed or set aside—and her family with her. In desperation, Lady Anne throws herself into the intoxicating intrigue of the Tudor court, determined to ensure the success of the new queen’s marriage and the elevation of the Seymour family to a more powerful position. Soon her machinations earn her a reputation as a viper in a den of rabbits. In a game of betrayal and favor, will her family’s rise be worth the loss of her soul?

Jane Seymour is a shy, dutiful fifteen-year-old when her eldest brother, Edward, brings his bride home to Wolf Hall. Katherine Filliol is the perfect match for Edward, as well as being a breath of fresh air for the Seymour family, and Jane is captivated by the older girl. Only two years later, however, the family is torn apart by a dreadful allegation—that Katherine has had an affair with the Seymour patriarch. The repercussions for all the Seymours are incalculable, not least for Katherine herself. When Jane is sent away to serve Katharine of Aragon, she is forced to witness another wife being put aside, with terrible consequences. Changed forever by what happened to Katherine Filliol, Jane comes to understand that, in a world where power is held entirely by men, there is a way in which she can still hold true to herself.

England 1536. Bridget Manning is forced to leave the safety and tranquillity of her home at Rivers Abbey in order to join the household of the queen, Anne Boleyn. Once there she enters a world seething with intrigue and plots against her new mistress. Will Bridget be able to navigate her way through the dangerous maze of the court or will it destroy her as it is destroying her queen?

Political schemes, religious partisanship and unbridled love shake the Royal Court of Scotland at the end of the Stuart dynasty. Witness to sordid murders, spy for Her Majesty among the Protestants of the infamous preacher John Knox, forced to give up her one true love, thrown out onto the streets then ruthlessly attacked by a drunkard, Charlotte Gray will do everything in her power to remain the sovereign’s lady-in-waiting. As for the Queen of Scots, she faces turmoil of a completely different kind: prisoner in a castle under the command of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England, Mary Stuart learns that she is the victim of a vast conspiracy and that her English counterpart has ordered her imminent execution. Despite their hardships, Mary and Charlotte will keep their dignity throughout the storm. The two women will finally find serenity, one in the arms of a man and the other in the arms of God. Interwoven with historical facts of the era, the thrilling The Captive Queen saga is worthy of the greatest royal intrigues that still fascinate us several centuries later.

Victoria could not remember a day that she had not already been promised to a man who lived thousands of miles away. She had tried to avoid this day her whole life. She had begged, pleaded and finally threatened to go into a convent rather than marry a man she did not know and did not want to know. Even with the whole estate around her with life, she did not share the same sentiment. As the days got closer to her wedding day, she went to extreme lengths to avoid this preplanned life that had been mapped out by her parents. Even to the point of escaping at any cost, only to be caught in the end.

‘I shall never marry!’ the young Elizabeth declared, a vow she kept throughout her life in the frightening and brutal world of shilling fortunes that was Henry VIII’s heritage.

At the tender age of eight, the Lady Elizabeth has already learnt that the sanctity of marriage is a lie. Her father, King Henry VIII, is notorious not only for his succession of wives, but his ways of divesting himself of them. When she draws the name of Robert Dudley in St Valentine games as a child, Elizabeth hotly declares she will never marry — a proclamation that amuses her elders, who expect that in time she will come to desire husband, home, and children of her own, regardless of whether she succeeds her father’s throne or not. The succession itself is a turbulent and ever-changing affair, one fraught with religious concerns and questions of legitimacy. 

Like her older half-sister, Mary, Elizabeth is displaced from the line of succession by their younger half-brother Edward, who is destined for the crown…and whose will explicitly excludes both young women from succeeding him on the event of his death. Yet it is Edward’s death that catapults Elizabeth’s story forward; her sufferings throughout her sister’s reign, and her observations of Mary’s dismal marriage, shape the decades that stretch before her. Throughout the fraught years between childhood and being crowned queen, Robert Dudley stands fast at Elizabeth’s side, becoming an extension of herself that she cannot do without. 

Drawn irresistibly to him and loving him as she has never loved anyone else, Elizabeth finds herself caught between desire and fear, wanting to love and refusing to fall victim to the agonies of marriage she has witnessed in every other married person she has known. Robert hopes to one day sit at her side, her king as well as her confidante, but as the years march on, his hopes falter as Elizabeth resists the pressure put upon her by councillors and subjects alike to marry and produce an heir. Seemingly unconcerned with securing the question of succession, she flirts and dodges the issue, clinging to the isolation of singledom and sovereignty as a protection against the heartbreak she views as inevitably imparted in married life. 

England’s Virgin Queen, as Rhoda Edwards paints her, is not a woman of ice and diffidence, but of fire and passion to match her coppery hair — a true successor to her fiery father. As a child, the confusing world frightens her; as a woman, she refuses to compromise. Her path from childhood through sovereignty is fraught with danger and conflict and love, a struggle between Elizabeth the queen and Elizabeth the woman… The only question is which woman prevails in the end…

From the National Best Selling Author A Bride Abandoned Lady Jaime Macpherson learned the meaning of betrayal on the Isle of Skye when her beloved Malcolm MacLeod wed another woman to save his inheritance. Her dreams of happiness crushed, she sought refuge in the elegant palace of the Duke of Norfolk. There, desire and intrigue mixed with the haunting music of the lute...and the duke's treacherous son sought to make Jaime his. A Passion Unconquered And there Jaime would find Malcolm again, a prisoner in the castle dungeon. In the icy darkness, she learns how to love again. But with England and Scotland at war, her bold scheme to free Malcolm would imperil her own life...though her passion swept her onto a battlefield of blood and tears where only a brave and true heart could save her... 

In Italy during the Second World War, as the allied invasion works its way northward from Anzio, art connoisseur Nicholas Kluge writes a novella in Pushkin Sonnets, Ocular Proof, to while away the empty hours. "Ocular Proof "tells the story, in twenty chapters structured by the phases of the alchemical process, of how two works of art came into being: a portrait of Maddalena de Medici which served as an early prototype for the Mona Lisa, and da Vinci? creation of ?he first photograph, ?the Shroud of Turin.

The coded references within Ocular Proof? Renaissance narrative reveal a plan involving MI6 and the Catholic Church to provide the Nazis with fake masterpieces as they prepared to loot the Vatican of some of its greatest art treasures.

"Ocular Proof" reveals the secrets Nicholas Kluge carried with him to the grave of a life of divided loyalties and lost ideals, and how his time with MI6 altered the course of the war and the course of his life. The novella? meditations on the nature of art and the creation of ?he authentic image?eerily prefigures the obsessions of an era when the term Machiavellian had never seemed more contemporary.  

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Which cover strikes your fancy and why? What colors draw your eye? Do you think the image appropriate next to the jacket description? Leave your comments below!

Have you seen this image elsewhere? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know. 


Anna Belfrage said...

Seeing as I have a major problem with covers depicting women with only half a head, it's the third cover that works for me...What is it with all these chopped off heads?

Erin Davies said...

Maybe someone is channeling Henry VIII?

Courtney J. Hall said...

The people that design these covers need to pay a bit more attention to the style of the times in which the books are set. 1, 2, and 3 look like they should take place at least 20 years later than the description says. I do like #2, though. The red is intriguing.