Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Under Cover

As many of you will be aware, I'm rather fond of Ngaio Marsh and her books. A while back I undertook to find a copy of all her books, and had such a great time trolling bookshops and Trade Me that I completely forgot to stop when I had then all. So consequently I have multiple copies of some of them. Part of the reason for that was a love of cover art.

You'll probably think it is a little over the top to own five copies of The Nursing Home Murder (1935),  by Ngaio Marsh, but I did some academic study on this book, and also it's quite interesting to see the progression of the cover art over a few decades. I should tell you in those days a nursing home was a private hospital, nowadays we think of them as geriatric hospitals. Also, this book is the only novel Ngaio wrote in collaboration with someone else, Irish physician Henry Jellett. I find it sad that none of the more modern editions mention him on the cover, although the earlier four here name him on the fly-leaf. The 1999 version doesn't mention his name at all!

This is the 1965 Fontana edition of The Nursing Home Murder. This is my second favourite cover.

1970 edition (Fontana) - it's awful! What were they thinking?!!!

1976. (Fontana) This is my favourite. In fact I've grown so fond of the cover art of Justin Todd that I'm now trying to find all the Ngaio Marsh books he did work for!

1983  (Fontana) Simple, but graphic, if a touch boring.

1999 Completely boring. Boring, Boring, Boring. And they didn't mention the co-authors name in the book anywhere! Naughty, naughty Harper Collins.

Which do you like best?


Anonymous said...

Vanda - I think changes in cover art really are absolutely fascinating! I like the 1976 cover, too, although I actually think the 1983 one's a bit less boring than you do. It's nice and stark. But yeah, the 1970 one? Come on!

Thanks for sharing these :-).

Bev Hankins said...

The only one I really like is the 1976 Fontana. And if I had to choose a second place, then I actually like the 'boring' 1999 one better than the other three.

Bernadette said...

I don't really like people on my book covers (I never have, I think it's got something to do with me imagining the characters myself and I don't like being led by cover art, even if unintentional) so of the other two I actually quite like the one you think is so boring boring boring. Though I agree it's very rude not to include co-author's name.

Dorte H said...

The 1976 cover is definitely the best one, but my second choice is the boring blue one (because, like Bernadette, I am not very fond of people on covers).

Claire G said...

I'm with you, Vanda: I think the Justin Todd one is superb.

I love the way that in the "what were they thinking?" cover, the dead person's last horrified look seems directed at the 80c price sticker, bottom right. It's amazing what little things can kill.

Erin (Homemade Cards by Erin) said...

Love your personal opinions of the covers!

Anonymous said...

Definitely the Justin Todd, though I also agree with Dorte, the simple blue has it's charms as well!

Jason Payne

karyn said...

Hi Vanda,
I like the Justin Todd cover the best. Perhaps, a bit more subtle than the others? What a great collection you're gathering. :)

KAT ADL'S said...

I like your two choices Particularly the eye roll on the painted cover and as I am partial to rubber gloves..I d have to go with that one.

Vanda Symon said...

Thanks for all your comments! It is always interesting to see what appeals and doesn't appeal to people. I guess it goes to show how important cover art is in grabbing attention.