For The King: the search for the cover is on!

I am in the process of revising For The King based on the notes of my editor, Julie Doughty. And even though my publication date is ten months away, the team at Dutton is already thinking of the cover design. As I did for the cover of Mistress of the Revolution, I sent in several suggestions and would love to have your input as well.

Cover No. 1

This would be my favorite. It is a detail of a painting representing the storming of the Tuileries Palace on the 10th of August 1792, but I think it could also depict the upheaval following the explosion of the bomb on Rue Nicaise.

For me it evokes images of 9/11. The smoke, the fire, the shock, the destruction. This is an analogy that was very much on my mind while I was writing the novel, and I would like to convey it through my cover.

The concern here seems to be that battle scenes don’t “sell” for historical fiction, and marketing issues are obviously paramount.

Cover No. 2

This is also, I believe, a powerful image. It is a detail of the famous painting Bonaparte crossing the Alps, painted in 1800 by the great artist Jacques-Louis David. Part of the propaganda so effectively used by the new ruler of France.

This particular painting also appears in the novel, as Roch visits one of his friends at David’s studio. However, I wonder whether the epic oomph would not be too much. It might give the mistaken impression that the book is about the Napoleonic wars.

And, as Julie pointed out, the title For The King might look strange superimposed on an image of Bonaparte. Note how I cut off the face. I had no qualms here, because Bonaparte’s features are too well known, and the book is not about him, though he is omnipresent.

In sum, I believe this is an appealing image, but one that could give the potential reader the wrong expectations.

Cover No. 3

This, a detail of a portrait of the painter Isabey by Gerard, has been really growing on me. This is how I picture my protagonist, Roch Miquel, the ambitious young policeman who will lose his illusions in the course of the Rue Nicaise investigation.

I like the almost black-and-white tone, the dark atmosphere, the proud and brooding expression of the model. A title in blood-red script would stand out beautifully against that very neutral background.

Cover No. 4

This is a detail of The Stagecoach, by Boilly, a minor – or not so minor – painter who very adeptly captured scenes of everyday life in Paris at the time. Many of my descriptions in For The King were inspired by his works.

Stagecoaches, then the main means of public transportation, play an important role in my novel. Also, I love the extraordinary level of detail in the painting. Note the chickens, the woman nursing her child, the unpaved street, the emotional farewells between the travelers and those left behind. Paris really comes to life here.

But the problem is that the scene has too much of an everyday tone, too quiet for the upheaval that takes place in the book, both on the political scene and in Roch’s personal life.

Cover No. 5

Again a Boilly, this time a billiards party. Like Cover No. 4, it fits certain scenes of the novel, but has the same drawback: too much a an everyday feel for the what is otherwise taking place in the story.

Cover No. 6

Gerard Madame RecamierAny detail of this beautiful portrait of Madame Recamier by Gerard, the same artist who painted the male portrait in Cover No. 3.

This is how I picture my heroine , lovely, dark-haired Blanche Coudert. I also used a few details of Madame Recamier’s biography as an inspiration for Blanche’s character. I hasten to say that both ladies are quite different in many, many regards.

So how is Madame Recamier similar, or dissimilar to Blanche? I won’t tell. Some blog visitors who are also in the middle of reading the Mistress of the Revolution have been complaining bitterly about spoilers (for instance I revealed in my last post that Gabrielle goes to jail!) so I will try to avoid those in the future.

To go back to this beautiful portrait of Madame Recamier, the problem is that this image is too well known and has been used for 10,000 other book covers.

What is your pick? Any other suggestions?

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