My last post, Book Art: Nine Coaches Waiting, kicked off some great discussion – for example, I heard for the first time of Trixie Belden! – and Jerri Chase kindly shared her Coaches book cover with us. Jerri went on to send me a series of book covers that I would like to share here today.
Jerri is sharing her US covers by illustrator and writer Charles Geer and I think they are absolutely gorgeous – despite the high postage charges (plus customs tax?) from the US to the UK, I really *really* would like these editions myself (*writes Christmas wishlist in February* *waves list under husband’s nose* *crosses fingers and toes*).
Wildfire at Midnight
I have seen and admired this cover before for its colours and its wildfires reflected in the colour of the river. The hotel looks spookily remote too. I’m interested to read on the book-flap that this novel was ‘long unavailable’ in the US, I wonder just how long it was out of print? As poised and elegant as one of her creations, Mary Stewart looks fabulous on the back cover (I wish we knew the photographer. This photo is used on several of her UK first editions but the photographer is uncredited).
Thunder on the Right
Aren’t we clever readers? The book flap informs us that this is:
A book for discriminating readers who find too few books well told.
This cover is lushly green and certainly demonstrates the isolation of the convent. By contrast, our heroine looks quite colourless – I wonder what shoes she wears to accessorise her dress and to walk up a steep and windy hillside? Again the photographer is uncredited. The photo is one I have used on this blog as it features on the back cover of my US copy of Madam, Will You Talk? which you can see here.
Nine Coaches Waiting
What an atmospheric cover, and I adore Linda’s red frock for running about on hillside and in forest! As for the back cover photograph, it is stunning, I wish we knew who the photographer was and where the picture was taken. I’d give this photo the caption ‘the glamorous life of novelist Mary Stewart’ for the car, for the backdrop, and for the post-war, post-rations yards of material in that coat.
My Brother Michael
Again we have our heroine outdoors in a red dress, and again this is a really evocative illustration, this time of Greece rather than France. I love the description of her writing given on the book-flap:
Smooth, polished prose combined with relentless pace
The Ivy Tree
This is a really dark, sinister cover which I think is really effective. I enjoyed reading the blurb too, which praises Mary Stewart’s writing nicely.
This cover is much more similar to the first UK book cover and accords well with Mary Stewart’s own design idea (apparently she sketched a Cretan windmill for her publisher herself, I don’t think she really wanted imperiled young women on her covers for fear of her work being pigeon-holed or dismissed). I love the sky – and Mary Stewart’s open smile on the back cover (photographer unknown. This photo is also used, uncredited, in Norah Smaridge’s book Famous British Women Novelists).
This Rough Magic
Again, no people feature on this lovely illustration. I love the blue shades here as well as the leap of the dolphin, this book cover makes me want to go swimming! (But not in Scottish seas, thank you, not even in summer and certainly not now in February when there is snow on the ground here.) It is good to see that the photographer name is given on the back cover: this photo of Mary Stewart looking stylish and bejewelled is by portrait photographer Bradford Bachrach.
Airs Above the Ground
Note that there are no young women in danger on this cover either, it is a Lipizzan horse that gives a sense of movement to this Geer illustration. The dark trees and shadowy buildings help give an air of menace in what is yet again a wonderful and atmospheric book cover. I like how the jacket praises Mary Stewart’s understanding of animals and the quality of her writing about them.
The Gabriel Hounds
Finally, Jerri has shared these images of the cover for The Gabriel Hounds. No damsels in distress, no animals: the building here is centre stage. I’m not sure that the lush grasses, the snow-covered mountains or the Lebanese palace of Dar Ibrahim as depicted here correspond in any way with my mental images of the location but it is a beautiful illustration. I am thrilled to read on the jacket that a new novel by Mary Stewart is
an international event
I wonder how many other Mary Stewart novels were illustrated by Charles Geer? He designed beautiful book covers, and seems to have well understood the central themes of these Mary Stewart novels.
I am sure everyone looking at the covers in this post would like to join me in thanking Jerri for taking the time and trouble to scan and share all these fabulous illustrations. Thank you, Jerri!
What do you think of these covers? I’d love to know your favourite Mary Stewart book art.
I have updated this post, adding Jerri’s scans of Wildfire, Thunder and Ivy Tree.