It’s no secret that I’m often drawn to a book’s cover like a moth to a naked lightbulb, but occasionally I stumble across a book whose cover has been so well designed that it stops me dead in my tracks and renders me speechless. This happened to me yesterday when I pulled this novel out of its packaging – Serena by Ron Rash, which is published in the UK next month (August 6th) by Canongate Books.
Designed by Hoo Ha, the UK cover for Serena is a real thing of beauty. Its most striking feature has to be the vivid red used for the title, and that colour not only repeats on the inner flaps, but bleeds delicately back on to the edges of the front and back cover. A border of silver frames the front and back cover, offsetting the red accent beautifully. The monochrome collage which fills the front cover (and extends to the back) is not only dramatic but wholly befitting to the novel’s synopsis:
The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton arrive in the wilds of the North Carolina mountains to build their lives together. Serena is unlike any woman the workers of their timber empire have ever seen – overseeing crews, hunting rattlesnakes, even saving her husband’s life in the wilderness.
Yet Serena also learns that she will never bear a child. Her discovery will set in motion a course of events that will change the lives of everyone in this remote community. As the Permbertons’ intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel, this riveting story of love, passion and revenge moves towards its shocking reckoning.
So an object of real beauty with a cover blurb that makes it look like it’s worth reading. But that’s a cover blurb’s job isn’t it? Maybe it also helps then to add in the fact, as the cover points out, that in the short time the novel has been published in the US (September 2008), it has taken the title of ‘Book of the Year’ from the New York Times, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly and Amazon.com. Make of this what you will, but personally I’m sold, even though this is the first novel that Ron Rash has had published in the UK (in the US Serena is Rash’s ninth published book, so he’s no debut writer).
Anyway more on Serena when I get to reading it. Owww..not enough hours in the day!
Canongate Books | August 6th 2009 (UK) | £11.99 | PAPERBACK | 384 PP | ISBN 9781847674876