Same Book, New Cover: Rediscovering The Glass Painter’s Daughter by Clare Hey

Clare Hey, Editorial Director at Simon & Schuster talks novelty, judging a book by its cover and the publisher’s recent re-issue of The Glass Painter’s Daughter by Rachel Hore.

A confession: publishers are often guilty of an obsession with the new. We like shiny debuts. We love the excitement of publication days. And we tend to move on very quickly to the next new thing once the previous one is just a few weeks old.

But a book is new to someone who hasn’t yet read it, and I firmly believe that as an industry we could – and should – do more to keep promoting our books, even after that first flush of excitement.

And that’s why we at S&S are excited to have published a reissue of Rachel Hore’s wonderful novel, The Glass Painter’s Daughter, which first came out in 2009. The new edition, complete with a beautiful new cover, came out on Thursday 10 September and is already finding a new raft of readers.

The Glass Painter’s Daughter is Rachel’s third novel. It’s set in a small stained-glass shop in the back streets of Westminster and tells the story of Fran and her father Edward as they take on a commission which will draw them into secrets from the past. It has had several cover lives since it was first published and looking back at its various incarnations gives an insight into how cover design has changed, even in the past six years:

GPD1            gdp2             gdp3

Inside the covers the pages are the same, but looking at these three different looks, you would be forgiven for thinking these are three very different novels. But each new cover gave the novel a new life, allowing us to sell it once again to bookshops, and to reach a new readership.

I think this latest jacket look is my favourite so far. Which do you prefer? Which would you be most likely to pick up?

Follow Rachel Hore on Twitter at @RachelHore and find out more about Rachel and her writing by visiting her website.

Book Group Discussion: A Better Man by Leah McLaren

August’s book of the month was A Better Man and it had our readers full of questions for the author – Leah McLaren. Leah’s second novel is a gritty family drama about a couple who seem to have it all but whose lives are slowly unravelling.A Better Man Jacket Read on for a selection of the questions our readers asked Leah when she joined us online…

On the inspiration for Nick and Maya… (Sara Donaldson)

The characters of Nick and Maya were not based on specific people but composites of many people I’ve known over the years. In the case of Nick, particularly in the opening chapters, he was based on a rather blank and cynical (but very good looking and successful) guy I briefly dated in my 20s. Maya was more of compilation of many of the women friends I’ve seen become mothers and struggle with work-life balance. There is, of course, some of me in her too.

On unlikeable protagonists… (Zarina de Ruiter)

I guess the main thing is, beyond being likeable or unlikeable, I wanted Nick and Maya to feel real and for their emotional journey to be an authentic one. In real life people do deceitful and vain and annoying things all the time but we still find ways to like them and that, I hope, is true for Maya and Nick as well. I wanted them to start off as people we might shake our heads at a bit and then slowly become people we admired and could even learn a little bit from. By the end of writing the book, I really felt close to both characters and in part that’s because of the way they transcended and faced down many of their flaws from the beginning of the book.

On Nick’s psyche… (Kate Chisman)

As to Nick specifically, I wanted to get inside the head of a deceitful cynical husband and father so in a way the exercise was fun. I’m a bit of hopeless liar and sort of wear my heart on my sleeve so I actually found it quite fun (if challenging) to put myself inside the brain of someone as self-contained as Nick.

On genre and intended audience… (Fran Slater)

I really don’t think about genre or audience at all during the writing process. I just write and hope people respond to it. The book has certainly been marketed as commercial women’s fiction, which I’m fine with but unlike most so-called “chick lit” books it’s narrated in part by a male protagonist and it’s actually quite dark in parts. I wouldn’t describe it as a romantic comedy because, although it’s sometimes romantic and sometimes comic, there is also a level of emotional and psychological realism that pushes beyond the typical beach read. Having said that, I think people should read any sort of book they want on the beach!

On balancing light and dark… (Anne Goodwin)

I’m so glad you felt the combination of emotional depth and lightness, even joy, because that is exactly what I was going for. And I cannot tell you how lovely it is for a writer to hear from a reader who actually experienced the book as it was intended. Essentially I wanted there to be a great sense of relief and recognition for everyone involved at the end of the book.

On marriage… (Van Demal)

I think in some ways the whole novel is about the difficulties of marriage and divorce culture gone mad. I don’t say that in a judgemental sense (I’ve been married twice myself!) but there are so many thematic angles to subject of marriage and divorce and these were very much on my mind as I wrote the novel.

On isolation… (Nicki Pettitt)

Maya deserves a best friend, but I suppose I was trying to show the extent to which women can sometimes get isolated at that stage of their lives in which children are young and all-consuming. Her relationship with Velma has become like a best friendship but that’s not entirely healthy. I think in the new phase of her life (after that novel’s end) she has a lot more girly nights out.

On alternative endings… (Caroline Ambrose)

It reminds me of a funny tweet I read recently: “The plot to every novel ever: character is searching for something. Commercial version: They find it. Literary version: They don’t.” The truth is, although I can see the appeal of a bittersweet ending, I always planned for Nick and Maya to end up together in the end. I always thought of the book as a kind of story of remarriage, in which two people who are already together lose each other and have to find their way back again. I feel like so many books about relationships are about the start of things when in truth, what happens after the wedding (or shacking up) is what’s really interesting and dramatic. I wanted to write about that.

A Better Man by Leah McLaren was published in the UK by Corvus on 6th August 2015.

Five Novels that Travel Across Time

This month we’re reading The Glass Painter’s Daughter by Rachel Hore and, in reverence to Rachel’s novel, which transports its readers between present-day and Victorian London, our CB Book Group member Anna Dixon (@AnnaRDixon) has picked her five favourite dual timeline/time slip novels.  We’d love to hear yours too!

A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth OzA Tale for the Time Beingeki

This book absolutely dominated my every waking moment as soon as I turned the first page. Unforgettable, philosophical and unputdownable. Meet Nao, a Japanese-American teenager whose father fell victim to the bursting of the dot com bubble, sending them back to Tokyo in disgrace, depression and poverty. Her diary is found washed up on a beach years later by Ruth, an uninspired novelist living on a remote island. It reveals Nao’s difficulty fitting in, her fathers continued suicide attempts, and the bond with her Buddhist nun great-grandmother which may just save her life. The two stories intersect beautifully, and with Ruth at our side we desperately try to piece together what happened to Nao and her family both before and after the tsunami, praying all the while that she is still alive.

LabyrinthLabyrinth by Kate Mosse

Any list of time slip novels had to include this one. Alice is volunteering on an archaeological site when she stumbles across two skeletons in a cave with a labyrinth drawn on the walls alongside some strange writing. This sets her on a journey of discovery of the past, where hundreds of years before, Alais is entrusted with a labyrinth ring and three books which hold the key to the whereabouts of the true Grail and its guardian. This is a secret she must guard with her life, and as Alais and Alice’s stories unfold, the book itself becomes a labyrinth (see what I did there) of twists and turns that will keep you hooked as well as keeping you guessing.

The HistorianThe Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I strongly suggest before starting this book that you get yourself some reading snacks, because you’ll be in it for the long haul.

Kostova’s debut novel follows a young woman as she finds an old, Dracula themed book, that her father Paul says he found in his desk when he was at university. Paul had found out that his professor and mentor Rossi had found a similar book when conducting his own studies, and his research had led him to Vlad Tepes (also known as Vlad the Impaler), a 15th century prince. The more Rossi researched, the more he became convinced that Dracula is still alive, leading them all on the hunt for Vlad’s tomb, to find the answers they seek once and for all. Of course these aren’t the only answers they get, and Paul’s secrets and the mystery surrounding his wife all begin to unravel as his daughter searches for the truth.

The Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Love, fate, time travel – what more could you want? Although I’m sure we all enjoyed the movie, the book will always be better (most of all, the ending will always be FAR better). Clare and Henry have the most complicated love story of all. She met him when she was six and he was a grown man, and she married him when she was in her twenties and he was…still in his thirties. Henry has Chrono-Displacement Disorder (coined by his doctor when he finally convinced him of his problem), meaning that often at the worst possible times, he is ripped from the present and thrown into another moment in his past or future life. The ups and downs of their relationship are peppered with Henry’s disappearances, and Clare’s longing to live a normal life with him. Touching and beautiful, this one’s a keeper.

TheHouseOnTheStrandThe House on the Strand – Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier wrote a fantastic novel about the unfortunate Dick Young, who accepts the role as guinea-pig for a drug his friend Magnus has created, in exchange for the use of his house in Cornwall. When Dick takes the drug he finds he is thrown back to Cornwall in the 14th century, following a man named Roger as he lives his life. This soon becomes addictive, and as Dick continues to go back he becomes disconnected from the modern world, wishing instead for the life he lives in the past, sharing Roger’s love for the beautiful (and dying) Lady Isolda. He uses this other world to escape the banality of his current one, even though when he is in the past he can’t interact with anyone there. This vividly descriptive, and rather unusual book which I found to be captivating, and I hope you will too!

the-glass-painters-daughter-9781471151880_hrOur September book of the month, The Glass Painter’s Daughter by Rachel Hore is now available from Simon & Schuster.  Follow Rachel Hore on Twitter at @RachelHore and find out more about Rachel and her writing by visiting her website.

September Book of the Month: The Glass Painter’s Daughter by Rachel Hore

the-glass-painters-daughter-9781471151880_hrToday we’re delighted to announce our September book of the month, The Glass Painter’s Daughter by Rachel Hore.  First published six years ago, this has become a reading group staple and we’re delighted that Rachel will join us later in the month to take part in our very own book club chat.  And don’t worry if you’re not a member – look out for more exclusive blogs throughout September and for your chance to win a copy of the book.

We’ll leave it to Rachel to tell you more:

rachelhore“The first glimmerings of the idea that eventually became The Glass Painter’s Daughter came to me late one evening as I walked through the backstreets of Westminster. I was with my husband, returning from a party to a borrowed flat where we were to spend the night. It had been raining steadily for some time and the wet streets of Victorian houses with their black iron palings glistened with silver beauty in the soft streetlight. We turned a corner into Vincent Square, where the field at its centre was cast in darkness, and I stopped dead, struck by the odd sensation of stepping into my own past.

It was here that I had worked in a publisher’s office in my twenties, and now powerful memories of the passions I’d felt then, frustrated ambition, the pain of a love affair that went wrong, washed over me with such freshness I almost gasped. Later my mind was to roam back to that night-time incident, and to the gothic atmosphere of the web of streets between Victoria Street and the Thames, the hidden garden squares, the churches with their lovely stained glass windows. It came to me that it was the perfect setting for a story about the agonies and ecstasies of youth.

As I consulted books about the area’s history, the clearance of its slums in the mid-Victorian period, the building of the churches and the missions to the poor, a group of fictional characters began to form in my imagination. The Reverend Brownlow and his family have suffered the loss of a darling daughter and their story begins when he commissions a stained-glass window of an angel to commemorate her. It’s told from the point of view of the dead girl’s sister, Laura, who falls in love with the young artist who designs the window, but happiness is impossible, because he is married with a child. In the Brownlows’ tale of loss, confusion and yearning, there is still hope, however, and the glass angel shines out to tell them so.

This angel became the centrepiece of my novel, linking the narrative from the Victorian past to another that takes place a century later, when the window arrives in shattered pieces at a small stained-glass shop round the corner from the church. Here, Fran, daughter of the shop’s owner, and fellow craftsman Zac take on the painstaking task of repairing it. Through old papers, artefacts and a diary, they learn the story behind the window. This part also involved some careful research on my part, not only excavating some fascinating accounts about Victorian stained-glass making and artists such as Edward Burne-Jones, but taking evening classes in the craft myself, learning how to hone glass into shape without injuring myself, to solder strips of soft lead together and cement them down.

As I wrote, the subject of angels began to fascinate me and the quotes that head each chapter are the fruits of my reading: about the Biblical perception of angels as messengers of God; about nineteenth century ideas of guardian angels; and stories of people today who claim to have been helped by angels. Those readers who are interested might like to consider how some of my characters engage with different aspects of the angelic . Both Laura Brownlow and her mother, for example, struggle in different ways with the Victorian ideal of woman as ‘the angel in the house’. By giving a pure young girl, Amber, a job in the stained glass shop Fran might unwittingly have obeyed the Biblical behest and ‘entertained angels unawares’.

It’s difficult to think about churches and angels without music creeping in somewhere, and I found that Elgar’s dramatic and moving choral piece ‘The Dream of Gerontius’, which Fran sings at her choir, ran through my mind as I wrote. ‘Gerontius’ is about the journey of a human soul after death to redemption and eternal joy, and for me it represented the story of a character who is present throughout the novel, but never speaks – Fran’s dying father Edward.  The secret that lies at the heart of ‘The Glass Painter’s Daughter’ is Edward’s, and only when it is discovered can he and his daughter Fran find peace and wholeness.”

The Glass Painter’s Daughter will be re-issued in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 24th September.  Follow Rachel Hore on Twitter at @RachelHore and find out more about Rachel and her writing by visiting her website.