Monday, May 29, 2006

The headless woman always wins

As some of you may remember, back in March, Sarah C mentioned Jane Harris's The Observations on her blog, and we briefly discussed the UK vs. US cover art in the comments. At the time, the US edition - which I got in galley form - boasted a gothic-style image of a woman walking in the Scottish countryside, with the ruins of a castle lurking in the background.

When I returned from BEA, a hardcover copy was waiting for me at home, courtesy of Viking Penguin and UPS. To my great surprise, it boasted the same headless woman from the British cover, meaning - I can only assume - that the gothic countryside look is no more. I do like the cover on the left, but am still a tad disappointed, as the original was so evocative and colorful.

Occasionally covers do change between the galley and the final version, but it's not terribly common, either. One can't escape the obvious conclusion: headless women covers sell books!

I've been back in Charleston for just over 24 hours now, still trying to unpack and clean stuff, and most of my mail hasn't even arrived yet. I hope to post something more substantial tomorrow.


  1. Glad to have you back!

    I have to say that if the reader reviews of this book on are any indication, the headless woman cover doesn't give a very good indication of the contents. The reviews emphasize the heroine's humor, unconventionality, and spunk; this cover would make me think I was getting just another upscale romance. And it's difficult for me to tell from the dress that it's set in the Victorian era, but that may be my fault and not the cover designer's.

  2. I'm thankful for your reports from BEA and elsewhere. I have enjoyed your blog so very much--I believe I discovered it through Teresa/Tess.

    My blog now links to yours. And Susan's!

    I assumed the "headless woman" was a fairly recent trend, but realised my edition of The Rose Grower (picture on my blog sidebar)has got one--copyright 2000.

  3. I really do find the headless woman thing most disconcerting!!

    Welcome home from BEA/CT - hope your trip was good and that the kitties are happy and healthy.

  4. Susan - It must be hard to try to get across humor and spunk in historical fiction covers. One cover I felt did it well was Deeanne Gist's A Bride Most Begrudging (check out the position of the heroine's right hand). Some of these headless covers are better than others in describing the story, but all that the one for Observations says to me is "historical fiction with a female protagonist." I can't decipher the period based on the dress, either.

    Margaret - thanks so much for your comments! I discovered your blog yesterday, after it showed up as a reference in my site stats. I'm going to add a link to your blog as well. You're right, Rose Grower also has a headless cover. And here I was thinking Other Boleyn Girl was the first. (The people who google "headless women" all the time are going to have a field day with this post)

    Tess - thanks! Kitties are fine and very happy to have us back. They're having a great time playing in all the book boxes.

  5. Liked the Gist cover! I'll have to read it one of these days.