Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Book Cover Trends - The Occupationist's Female Relative

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The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Arielle North Olson, 1970
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Ronia, The Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren, 1985
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The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan, 1991
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The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich, 1998
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The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan, 2001
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The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, 2003
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The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards, 2005
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The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham, 2005
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The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea, 2006
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The Zookeeper's Wife by Daine Ackerman, 2007
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The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent, 2008
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The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Lenore Skomal, 2010
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The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch, 2010
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The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston, 2011
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The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht, 2011
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The Traitor's Wife by Kathleen Kent, 2011
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The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson, 2012
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The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki, 2014
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The Liar's Wife by Mary Gordon, 2015
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The Stargazer's Sister by Carrie Brown, 2016
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The Taxidermist's Daughter by Kate Mosse, 2016
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The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown, 2017
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The Light-Keeper's Daughter by Jean E Pendziwol, 2017
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The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton, 2018
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The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor, 2018
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17 comments:

  1. I guess it's a movie, rather than a book, but my mind went to:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Astronaut%27s_Wife

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    1. Good catch, Peter!

      Getting into visual media also opens up a whole realm of plural wives - The Astronauts' Wives Club, The Second Wives Club, Army Wives, Basketball Wives, Mob Wives...

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  2. Clearly there is an opening in the market for "The Lighthouse Keeper's Wife" and "The Traitor's Daughter"

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    1. Surprised we haven't seen obvious maximizations of this trend yet:
      "The Daughter-Wife's Daughter"

      Maybe the next big thing will be taking it in a new direction:
      "The Philatelist's Aunt"
      "The Haberdasher's Niece"
      "The Ophthalmologist's Mother"
      And so forth.

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    2. The Wife-Daughter's Daughter-Wife?

      Most of the occupations seem to be like "The Noun-Verber" ... so "The Stamp Collector's Aunt" or "The Hat Maker's Niece" might be more on trend?

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  3. The Hangman's Daughter, by Oliver Pötzsch

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  4. Clearly all inspired by the Frost-Giant's Daughter. ;)

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    Replies
    1. I was thinking that Amy Tan looked like the trendsetter, but you raise a compelling counter-argument...

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  5. Ooh, I forgot about "Ronia, the Robber's Daughter"
    https://www.amazon.com/Ronia-Robbers-Daughter-Astrid-Lindgren/dp/0140317201

    Which I read to my own daughter. (Katherine, the Dabbler's Daughter)

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    Replies
    1. The thing I find odd about this trend is the way leading with the named job makes the wife or daughter feel secondary. Adding her name first certainly corrects that feeling!

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  6. Mary Gordon's sentences flow like water. Her characters are well drawn and are intelligent and thoughtful.


    The Liar's Wife: Four Novellas

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  7. To break into this publishing space I think one will need to either pull the switcheroo "The Niece's Traitor: A Lighthouse" or get recursive "The Lighthouse Keeper, Wife of the Tiger who used to date the Beekeeper's Housekeeper"

    Then I remember authors don't write their own book titles and publishing apparently thinks that female protagonists can only be interesting juxtaposed with strange romantic partners or as part of a complex familial relationship. Half of these were likely titled "The Lighthouse Murders" or something before the publisher was like "I like your zany female detective ... But ... who is she? No? Like who is she married to? Huh? Well her father then?"

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    1. It's funny how easy it is to forget about the publisher's hand in all this. We're used to ascribing every detail to authorial intention - but book names and cover design are definitely areas where the publisher has final say.

      So I could wonder about the fact that all of these are written by women, and wonder if this trend reflects a widespread feeling among women that their identities are defined as much in terms of their fathers and husbands as they are in terms of themselves ... but it might be as accurate to wonder if publishers were hoping to move product by encouraging people to buy the wrong book by mistake. ("I wanted 'The Traitor's Wife,' but not THIS 'The Traitor's Wife!'")

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    2. Discovering that journalists didn't write the titles of their articles blew me away. This is just as bad.

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    3. Obviously some of the earlier one's - the kid's book from 1970, and the Amy Tan books (given she's an author of some clout) are likely to have been author name picks for reasons that likely relate to the story within - though who knows. The lesser known names of the authors, quality of the cover art and trend from more serious fiction into what appear to be potboilers suggests that the name trend is just that, and where publishers (or where they aren't - cause self publishing is growing, especially in genre spaces) are involved I bet more and more of it is trying to get in on the "Occupation:Female Relative" trend.

      This blog post by the Sci-Fi author Charlie Stross gets into the cover and title thing a bit, and it's kinda amusing:
      https://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2019/05/cmap-16-book-title-blues.html

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