Historical Fiction Cover of the Week

This Monday feature seems to have become a Tuesday feature – well, I’ll just go with flow…

This week, completely by accident – and some may wonder whether I have any other way of working – the chosen covers are all classics of a sort. The theme is World War One but I was looking for covers which don’t just give me “shoot ’em up” images. I want more than that: something greater or something different than simply an image showing fighting.

Birdsong2birdsongFirst up is Sebastian Foulkes’ Birdsong  and yes, there are two covers here.The left hand image is one of the original covers, though not the first I think. It is black and white which befits a war story and it is simple. The black image of the WW1 soldier at a grave marked by a cross is pretty much iconic.

The second cover was for an edition produced last year for the centenary of the war. It captures your attention because there is a vast expanse of white, which is unusual with the image in the centre of all that nothingness. And that’s it. Would you get away with a cover like this if the book and the writer were not already well known? I’m not sure, but both work.

fallofgiantsNext is another heavyweight of the genre: Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants. You see, this is what I mean by wanting more because this cover has a lot more.

At a very basic level, I might pick this book up because it has a bright cover and, of course, I like light in the centre – as I have probably said at least half a billion times before. Looking more closely though, I would see several different elements under all that colour: the line of soldiers at the bottom, the map of Europe in the background and the couple in the top left hand corner – oh, and a bit of barbed wire too. So this cover gives me some useful pointers about the story. There is plenty here to make me explore the book further.

This would have been a worthy winner but the final cover trumps it because it is just a little bit clever.

warhorseMichael Morpurgo’s Warhorse. Can there be anything left to say about this book, film, play, and probably video game by now? I think not, but this cover does rather draw the eye [see what I’ve done there]. Clearly the focus is on the horse but not just a horse. It is not just a picture of an animal; the great eye shows empathy and understanding. We can see the soldiers at the bottom of the cover, but so can the horse because in the horse’s eye you can see the same soldiers – very clever.

I like the black and white image with just a little splash of colour for the title. Overall, it’s very effective indeed.

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