These covers are doing the rounds online, but damn if it isn’t easy to see why. Above you can see (small) images of all ten new Bloomsbury Modern Classics covers. Below, I’ve included larger versions of my favourites, as well as information about the novels.
Donna Tartt’s THE LITTLE FRIEND
The sunlit rails gleamed like dark mercury, arteries branching out silver from the switch points; the old telegraph poles were shaggy with kudzu and Virginia creeper and, above them, rose the water tower, its surface all washed out by the sun. Harriet, cautiously, stepped towards it in the weedy clearing. Around and around it she walked, around the rusted metal legs.
One day is never, ever discussed by the Cleve family. The day that nine-year-old Robin was found hanging by the neck from a tree in their front garden. Twelve years later the family are no nearer to uncovering the truth of what happened to him.
Inspired by Houdini and Robert Louis Stevenson, twelve-year-old Harriet sets out to find her brother’s murderer – and punish him. But what starts out as a child’s game soon becomes a dangerous journey into the menacing underworld of a small Mississippi town.
I’ve only read one of Tartt’s novels, The Secret History, which I very much enjoyed. I’ve had The Goldfinch since it came out, but for some reason I’ve been slow getting around to reading it. After I saw this new cover for The Little Friend, I snapped it up immediately. (In eBook, but nevertheless.)
Kate Summerscale, THE SUSPICIONS OF MR. WHICHER
Saville’s corpse, already stiff, was laid on a table beneath the kitchen window; upstairs the shape of his sleeping self was still indented on the sheets and pillow of the cot.
On a summer’s morning in 1860, the Kent family awakes in their elegant Wiltshire home to a terrible discovery; their youngest son has been brutally murdered. When celebrated detective Jack Whicher is summoned from Scotland Yard he faces the unenviable task of identifying the killer – when the grieving family are the suspects.
The original Victorian whodunnit, the murder and its investigation provoked national hysteria at the thought of what might be festering behind the locked doors of respectable homes – scheming servants, rebellious children, insanity, jealousy, loneliness and loathing.
This is a gorgeous cover, really. I remember when The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher first came out, and I couldn’t tell if it was fiction or non-fiction. Alyssa read this quite recently, and loved it. I’ll read it soon, too (albeit, an edition with a rather inferior cover).
David Guterson, SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS
He saw the soft cedars of San Piedro Island, its high, rolling hills, the low mist that lay in long streamers against its beaches, the whitecaps riffling its shoreline. The moon had risen already behind the island – a quarter moon, pale and indefinite, as ethereal and translucent as the wisps of cloud that travelled the skies.
A fisherman is found dead in the net of his boat off the coast of a North American island. When a local Japanese-American man is charged with his murder, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than one man’s guilt. For on San Piedro, memories grow as thickly as cedar trees – memories of a charmed romance between a white boy and a Japanese girl.
Above all, the island is haunted by what happened to its Japanese residents during the Second World War, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbours watched.
Snow Falling on Cedars is another classic novel that I’ve never read, but always been aware of. Not sure why I never read it, to be honest.
Susanna Clarke, JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL
The woman within the mirror drew nearer. For a moment she appeared directly behind it and they could see the elaborate embroidery and beading of her gown; then she mounted up upon the frame as a step. The surface of the mirror became softer, like a dense cloud or mist.
Centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into England’s past. Only one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell, whose magical powers – of conjuring, misdirection and resurrection – send a thrill through the country.
But cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of the brilliant Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the antithesis of Norrell. And so begins a dangerous battle between two great men whose obsessions and dabblings with the dark arts will cause more trouble than they can possibly imagine.
Jonathan Strange… created quite the sensation when it was first published. I think it came out during my particularly difficult stage of not wanting to read anything that seemingly everyone else was reading. (Why did I have to be so difficult in my 20s?) Clarke’s best-selling novel has also been made into a critically-acclaimed TV mini-series.