THE PARIS HOURS will be the seventh novel I’ve published. Each book has come into the world with its own unique set of challenges, quiet satisfactions, and toe-curling embarrassments, but some things never change. One of these constants is the overwhelming anxiety that descends when my inbox chimes and I see an email from my editor titled simply cover.
The cover of a book is important. I mean, super-important. A beautiful, arresting image can inspire excitement within the publishing house; it can attract the attention of booksellers and generate buzz pre-publication – and, of course, it can tempt book buyers into picking the book up as it sits on bookshop tables and shelves. A lot rests on the cover, in other words. But as an author, there’s something more profound at stake than just marketing and sales. As I open that email and the cursor hovers over the jpeg attachment, a more elemental question skewers me: did they get it? When a cover captures something essential in the book, the writer feels seen and understood. And that feels wonderful.
My new publishers sent me a whole questionnaire about the cover. They wanted to know what covers of recently published books I liked, and why. I was asked to provide a commentary on the jacket designs of my previous novels. Did I have any thoughts about the new book? (Oh, did I have thoughts.) I labored over my answers, but everything I wanted could be boiled down into one simple, if desperate, request: please don’t put the Eiffel Tower on the cover.
I should explain. The novel is set in Paris in 1927, and takes place over the course of a single day. I went to school in the northern suburbs of Paris when I was thirteen, and a decade later I lived and worked in the center of the city as an attorney in a large international law firm. But even though I know the place quite well, it’s difficult to write about it without tumbling into crowd-pleasing cliché. People are already so familiar with the city’s landmarks that it can be a challenge to present a fresh perspective on all that beauty. I did my best, but still I worried that all my efforts would be in vain if the world’s most recognizable architectural structure appeared on the cover of the book.
Anyway, as you can see, it doesn’t.
I love everything about this cover. The green is quite gorgeous. I adore the sinuously curving staircase, the interplay of dark and light. I love the fabulous slash of orange on the right side of the image. I love the (literal) interiority of the thing. In other words: they got it. I’m thrilled to share it with you, and I hope you like it. Drop me a line in the comments and tell me what you think.