Monday, May 11, 2020

Dustjackets vs. coronavirus: Grownup fiction edition

As the news continues to take us on a rollercoaster ride and isolation makes us restless and discontented, I thought, "What could be a more powerful antidote to the coronavirus than some lovely dustjackets?" Okay, full disclosure, the medical efficacy of luscious dustjackets is uncertain (it's never actually been proven to be unefficacious, however!), but at any rate...

I intended to do more of these posts months ago, including some of the many dustjacket scans provided by my Fairy Godmother from her vast, envy-inducing collection, but I never got round to it. Happily, there's time to do it now. 

This time around are some random covers for novels for adults. These are for books or authors that just happened to come up in emails with FG or that I had mentioned on my blog. You should be able to click on each one in order to view it at full size. Hope you enjoy perusing as much as I have!

Ruth Adam is an old favorite (and hopefully soon a new reprint...)
and this is one of her rarest titles

I've also written often about Kitty Barne, another favorite

This might look like not my (or FG's) cup of tea, but based on
mentions of it it might actually be quite entertaining

One of several titles I came across in my quest for WWII titles

Rachel Ferguson is an all-time favorite and this is her only novel
to cover the WWII years, in a seaside resort no less

Mary K. Harris is well-known for her school stories, including
Gretel at St Bride's, which features a girl refugee from the Nazis, but
she's less known for her three more grownup titles, shown here

Sometimes I'm mortified at my reading habits. Having reviewed Hassett's
Sallypark and Educating Elizabeth years ago, and having had this sequel
to the latter on my shelf for nearly as long, I still haven't read it...

Hilda Hewett is a slightly newer favorite, and here are three of her
books I haven't yet read. With any luck, you'll see jackets for a couple
more of her books soon, currently winging their way to me from England!

Another intriguing book I investigated for our WWII batch of FM titles

And I learned, thanks to FG, that this one has little or nothing to do with WWII

Two really lovely jackets from a favorite of many of you as well as
of me. I have both of these, but of course I haven't read them...

FG sent this jacket and the next one along after I'd written about
another adult novel by Barbara Willard, author of the Mantlemass
historical fiction series for children

And finally, just because it's so beautiful, the jacket of Enid Bagnold's
final novel, which I read years ago and remember liking (but nothing
else about it)

There, now don't you feel better?


  1. Well, seeing as how I frequently comment on the cover art, this particular column seems meant just for me. Many thanks, Scott.
    My favorite is the one for Barnes' "Music Perhaps." NOW - WHO is "Biro!"

    1. Val Biro was a very well known illustrator e.g. of Anthony Buckeridge's later Jennings books as well as many books for adults. He wrote and illustrated the Gumdrop series of books for children, which feature an old car.

      He was born in Hungary and lived for many years in Buckinghamshire. Small claim to fame: my late husband went out with his daughter for a while :-)

    2. 'Biro' was Val Biro (1921-2014) - a Hungarian illustrator who also wrote (and of course illustrated) children's books especially Gumdrop - a rather splendid vintage car, based on one he owned.

    3. Thanks Barbara and Ruth for chiming in with the answer! I've seen Biro's name elsewhere, I believe, and his covers are indeed irresistible, but I knew nothing about him.

  2. A welcome antidote to gloom indeed! I don't know which one I would choose first - The Impostor (I love an impersonation story) or the Barbara Willards . . . Despite a house with hundreds of unread books, I am missing the library. I have reserves at three local libraries in case one of them decides to open for curbside pickup!

    1. I know how you feel! Some bookstores in SF are starting to do curbside pickup soon (no libraries yet), and I'm wondering if I can justify splurging in the name of supporting our local bookstores. I'm pretty sure I can...

  3. There was a series of books for children about an old car called Gumdrop written and illustrated by Val Biro. He worked as an illustator and owned a car clled Gumdrop. Jenefer

    1. Thanks Jenefer! Clearly I'm going to have to do some research on Biro's other covers.

  4. Lovely covers! I, too have read the Bagnold and have no memory of it at all, though I know I liked it. My favorites above are the Streatfeilds and the Rachel Ferguson -- any chance it will be a Furrowed Middlebrow reprint someday?

    1. Thanks Karen. I did really consider the Ferguson for our WWII batch, but it was a question of an embarrassment of riches. Still on my possibles list though.

  5. Oh, such nice covers and blurbs (though I see a few of the flaps have only reviews, so the story itself remains a mystery).

    Let's see... Mary K. Harris strikes me as the least desirable...sounds somehow judgemental of her characters, while I'd like to run out and find a few Hilda Hewetts and gobble them up. She has the best covers too, I think.

    And Ladies May Now Leave Their Machines sounds like a winner as well.

    Thanks for all these, Scott.

    1. Thanks Susan. Actually, I've read one of Harris's school stories and it was quite good. I do mean to get round to one or more of the adult novels someday, so you may hear more about them.

  6. If DJ art like this isn't a cure or treatment for Covid 19, they are at least a lovely way to get the mind to focus on something else, and that positive, for a time. Lots of interesting possibilities to try if I had the books, but fun to see the DJs and read the blurbs in any case.


  7. Goodness, Scott, this is so timely. Nothing to do with viruses (viri?), but with Mary K. Harris. We're currently proof-reading the Encyclopaedia of Girls' School Stories, and I've just reached Harris. It turns out that the publisher given for My Darling from the Lion's Mouth in our bibliography is wrong: we had it down as Sheed & Ward, like most of her non-Faber books, but the dustwrapper above shows quite clearly that it's Chatto and Windus. (The US version is retitled 'I am Julie', by the way, if you ever come across that.)

    So once again, it's Scott to the Rescue, Scott Steps In, and Scott Wins Through!

    1. Good catch, Sue, and I'm so glad I was able to help. Though it's really my Fairy Godmother who deserves the credit!

  8. Better? No, just envious of your TBR pile. BTW I recently read a description of a factory that could have been the model for that book - if I come across it again I will alert you.

    1. Interesting, Dixie. Yes, let me know if you find it. And as for my TBR, it can be both a blessing and a curse, I'll tell you--the time it takes me to decide what to read next!

  9. I love Mary K Harris and all the other authors. I'm interested in the Hilda Hewett's, not read anything of hers before. I've just managed to track down three in rather smashing d/ws - very exciting. I thoroughly enjoy the blog. Beautiful books are definitely getting me through these strange times.


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