Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cover Cliché: Girl with the Birdcage

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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Set in Coventry, England, during and immediately after World War II, Lignes De Vie revolves around the early years of Frank Arthur Vine, the illegitimate son of young, free-spirited Cassie and an American GI. Because Cassie is too unreliable and unstable to act as his proper guardian -- and is prone to "blue" periods in which she wanders off without warning or recollection -- Frank is brought up in the care of his strong-willed, stout-drinking grandmother, Martha Vine, who has, among other homemaking talents, the untoward ability to communicate with the dead.

So begins the first decade of Frank's life, one in which ghosts have a place at the table and divine order dictates the outcome of his days. Along the way there are brief stays with each of his six eccentric aunts, visits to the local mortuary, and voices inside of his own head that suggest that he, too, has the gift of supernatural intuition. An affecting tale of family and history, war and peace, love and madness, The Lignes De Vie will leave readers spellbound with its resounding expression of magic realism.






John Crowley's masterful Little, Big is the epic story of Smoky Barnable, an anonymous young man who travels by foot from the City to a place called Edgewood—not found on any map—to marry Daily Alice Drinkwater, as was prophesied. It is the story of four generations of a singular family, living in a house that is many houses on the magical border of an otherworld. It is a story of fantastic love and heartrending loss; of impossible things and unshakable destinies; and of the great Tale that envelops us all. It is a wonder.








In the 1870s two remarkable women meet in a remote country town in Western Australia. Ingrid is hundreds of miles from home, trying to distance herself from a broken heart after her lover was forced to marry. Ellyn is a young woman living in stark isolation and driven close to madness by the death of her baby daughter. Ellyn's husband is away indefinitely, and she's had no word from him. When the two women meet, they forge a bond that grows ever deeper. But can their intimacy find acceptance in their conventional world? 









Elizabeth comes from a long line of midwives, and so was expected to follow suit. Soon she loses faith in her vocation and her heart to a man who will never return his love, even when she moves into his home to raise his child. Elizabeth must also come to terms with the fact that she is barren.







Dublin 1907, a city of whispered rumours. A young actress begins an affair with a damaged older man, the leading playwright at the theatre where she works. Rebellious and flirtatious, Molly Allgood is a girl of the inner city tenements, dreaming of stardom in America. She has dozens of admirers but in the backstage of her life there is a secret.

Her lover, John Synge, is a troubled genius, the son of a once prosperous landowning family, a poet of fiery language and tempestuous passions. Yet his life is hampered by convention and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Scarred by a childhood of loneliness and severity he has long been ill, but he loves to walk the wild places of Ireland. The affair, sternly opposed by friends and family, is turbulent, sometimes cruel, often tender.

Many years later, an old woman makes her way across London on the morning after a hurricane. Christmas is coming. As she wanders past bombsites and through the city's forlorn beauty, a snowdrift of memories and lost desires seems to swirl. She has twice been married: once widowed, once divorced, but an unquenchable passion for life has kept her afloat as her dazzling career has faded.

A story of love's commitment, of partings and reconciliations, of the courage involved in living on nobody else's terms, Ghost Light is a profoundly moving and ultimately uplifting novel.




JUST OUTSIDE LONDON, behind a high stone wall, lies Lake House, a private asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature. In the winter of 1859, Anna Palmer becomes its newest patient. To Anna’s dismay, her new husband has declared her in need of treatment and brought her to this shabby asylum. 

Confused and angry, Anna is determined to prove her sanity, but with her husband and doctors unwilling to listen, her freedom will notbe easily won. As the weeks pass, she finds other allies: a visiting physician who believes the new medium of photography may reveal the state of a patient’s mind; a longtime patient named Talitha Batt, who seems, to Anna’s surprise, to be as sane as she is; and the proprietor’s bookish daughter, who also yearns to escape. 

Yet the longer Anna remains at Lake House, the more she realizes that—like the ethereal bridge over the asylum’s lake—nothing and no one is quite as it appears. Not her fellow patients, her husband, her family—not even herself. Locked alone in her room, driven by the treatments of the time into the recesses of her own mind, she may discover the answers and the freedom she seeks . . . or how thin the line between madness and sanity truly is. 

Wendy Wallace’s taut, elegantly crafted first novel, The Painted Bridge, i s a s tory o f f amily betrayals and illicit power; it is also a compelling portrait of the startling history of the psychiatric field and the treatment of women— in society and in these institutions. Wallace sets these ideas and her characters on the page beautifully, telling a riveting story that is surprising and deeply moving. 







Set against the backdrop of the Boer War, this is the tale of two women, each fighting their own battles; Sarah is the angelically pretty nurse who falls in love with a sick Colonial trooper of humble origin, whilst Louise cannot help but feel jealous of her friend's natural magnetism.







New York, the sweltering summer of 1841: Mary Rogers, a beautiful counter girl at a popular Manhattan tobacco shop, is found brutally murdered in the Hudson River. John Colt, scion of the firearm fortune, beats his publisher to death with a hatchet. And young Irish gang leader Tommy Coleman is accused of killing his daughter, his wife, and his wife's former lover. Charged with solving it all is High Constable Jacob Hays, the city's first detective. Capping a long and distinguished career, Hays's investigation will involve gang wars, grave robbers, and clues hidden in poems by that master of dark tales, Edgar Allan Poe.

With a multilayered plot and rich, terse prose, The Blackest Bird is both a gripping mystery and a convincing portrait of the New York underworld in its early days. At its heart is Hays' unlikely connection with Poe, who like many other men was in love with Mary Rogers. In its deeply textured world, full of bloodshed and duplicity, only a few innocent relationships — such as Hays' tender bond with his daughter — provide any comfort and hope.




From early childhood, Mabel Rowbotham knows that she is different. She is struck by visions and premonitions that disturb her dreams, haunt her waking hours and stay with her long after she emigrates from England to Canada. Although desperate to understand these powerful episodes, Mabel hides her gift behind a facade of normalcy.

But Mabel is not destined to be normal. Her quest for understanding leads her to the Brother, XII—founder of one of Canada’s most infamous Utopian colonies. Here, Mabel fully transforms into the complicated and enigmatic figure of Madame Zee and ultimately finds an explanation for the mysterious knowledge that has shaped her life.

A popular reading group choice, Pearl Luke’s acclaimed and sensitive re-imagining of this enigmatic figure was a Flare and Chatelaine book-club pick. It now includes a fascinating P.S. section with information about the real Madame Zee.


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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. 


2 comments:

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Wow. Such different uses for the same image!

Magdalena Johansson said...

I must say it's intersting to see how many different covers one pic can be used for.