Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Bits and pieces

The cross-cultural differences in publishing fascinate me:

At left is the forthcoming US edition (Little, Brown, November) of Kathleen Kent's second novel, a prequel to her award-winning The Heretic's Daughter. The UK edition (Macmillan, January 2011) is at right. Isn't it interesting how the titles reflect the history of their country of publication?

"The Wolves of Andover" — as a New England native, I love that title — emphasizes the wilds of colonial Massachusetts and its dark past. "The Traitor's Wife" harks back to the English Civil War, whose legacy haunts one of the main characters. I have an ARC of the former and am eager to get to it. Thanks to my fellow HNR editor Gordon for telling me about the UK edition, as I wouldn't have known about it otherwise. The Traitor's Wife, of course, is the title of Susan Higginbotham's debut novel, so it makes sense the US publisher wouldn't want to reuse it.

The Booker Prize shortlist was announced today, and there are three historicals on it: Andrea Levy's The Long Song (19th-c Jamaica), Tom McCarthy's C (early 20th-c Europe), and Peter Carey's Parrot and Olivier in America (19th-c United States). What's not on it: David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which is a real shame. I say this without having read the others yet, but it was an amazing novel. My review from Booklist is the 4th down under Editorial Reviews on the Amazon page.

I'm so glad that Quercus (UK) will be publishing Lian Hearn's new novel, Blossoms and Shadows, a historical epic set in 19th-c Japan. Details from The Bookseller. After being enthralled by her Otori trilogy set in a quasi-feudal Japan, as well as the prequel and sequel, I was going to acquire this novel anyway, even if I had to pay postage from Australia to do it. Now I won't have to, although I will have to be a little patient. Publication in the UK is next May, but for those in Australia, the release date is October 1st. The Australian cover is at left ($34.99, from Hachette Australia).

And for a little BSP: thanks to readers' advisory experts Rebecca and Karen at Shelf Renewal for choosing this site as their "web crush of the week" for 8/27, to Becky at RA For All for highlighting it last week, and to Amy from Passages to the Past for nominating it as September's Historical Blog of the Month at Nan Hawthorne's Historical Blogs: Fiction & Fact. I appreciate it!


  1. I see that Andover, Massachusetts was named after Andover, Hampshire in England. The English Andover was very close to action at Basingstoke during the English Civil War and there were plenty of human wolves there! I think "Wolves of Andover" is a great title as it makes the connection between the two countries and events which affect life in both. ‬

    Thanks for the alert about Lian Hearn's new novel. I love the Otori Tales and will definitely keep an eye out for "Blossoms and Shadows". It will make a good counterpoint to "The Sword/Children of Hachiman" which I couldn't resist buying after your earlier post about Georgette Heyer historical novel prize winners :)

  2. I actually really dislike when publishers change the name of a book for different countries. Not only does it confuse readers (and in the modern age where readers buy books from all vendors all over the world at their whim, it does confuse readers...), but it also diminishes from the book itself. Titles are meant to define a book through and through - two titles means two definitions. Not good.

  3. That's great that Lian Hearn's new book will be easier to get! I found some of the books in the Otori Tales series second hand at one point, but it took me a while to get a copy of book one and I STILL have to actually read it!

  4. I agree with Sarah, as a former resident of New England, "The Wolves of Andover" has a haunting ring that makes me immediately want to read the book.

    I especially like that after years of reading books with titles like "The ____'s Sister/Wife/Mother" or some variation on harlot or mistress, this book goes for atmosphere over a description of how the female lead is related and/or dependent upon a man!


  5. The different titles and covers is really interesting. I've already read my review copy of the US title and really enjoyed it. Are the stories the same with just the title changed, or are there differences within the story itself as well, do you know?

  6. The different titles and covers is really interesting. I've already read my review copy of the US title and really enjoyed it. Are the stories the same with just the title changed, or are there differences within the story itself as well, do you know?

  7. My writing is about the wilds of Texas, not Massachusetts, but that one sounds interesting, and this site definitely deserves to be someone's crush!

    And Nan is great.

  8. Annis, that's very interesting about the English Andover; the Civil War isn't a period I know very much about, so the connection passed me by. In Massachusetts, it's right near Tewksbury, so there's a mixed-up re-creation of English military history in that section of the state :)

    I'll be curious to hear what you think about Children of Hachiman as you'll probably get to it before I do!

    Biblibio, yep, it does confuse readers, and they often catch me off guard because it means books can be bought twice unintentionally. I can't say I object to there being more than one way to title (or define) a book, though; oftentimes historical novels are given generic, sound-bite titles that are less than evocative of the content.

    I like the way The Traitor's Wife, being a sequel to The Heretic's Daughter, uses the same format but changes the focus from the daughter to the mother; but I still strongly prefer Wolves of Andover!

    Amy, we were probably both in line for the ARC at BEA - that's where I got my copy! I haven't seen the UK edition, but publishers rarely change the content when the books come out that close together... but the spelling may be changed to reflect the UK.

    Thanks, Shelley!

  9. My copy of Lynn Guest's book just arrived today - the classic example of the confusion different UK/US titles can cause, especially after time has gone by! My one has the US title "Sword of Hachiman", btw.

    However "Heartstone", the latest in CJ Sansom's Matthew Shardlake series, has also just arrived and I might not be able to resist it ---