WHY GREAT STORIES NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE . . .
Some things are simply timeless – like the little black dress that you pull out of the back of your wardrobe every time you think you have ‘nothing to wear’.
Like slipping on that LBD, allowing yourself to relax into the capable hands of a consummate storyteller is one of the most wonderful feelings, especially when they allow you to escape to another world filled with glamour, romance, excitement and intrigue. It’s like cosying up for a natter with a good friend, and that’s exactly how I felt when I read Claire Lorrimer’s novels for the first time.
The Rochford Trilogy: One Family. Three Generations. A Lifetime of Secrets…
I always feel bereft when I’ve finished a good book where I’ve really engaged with the characters, so I loved the idea of tracking a family through the generations and watching the relationships develop, deepening the connection with each instalment. Plus, I’m a sucker for a bit of romantic historical drama (Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms anyone?) and the fact that the intimate, and highly relatable, family narrative is set against the backdrop of some of the most tumultuous times in British history, the end of the Victorian Era, World War I and World War II, simply adds more weight to the human drama that unfolds. But the thing that spoke to me the most was the authenticity of the author’s writing. Even Jilly Cooper is a fan, praising the author’s ‘terrific storytelling’ and I couldn’t agree with her more – I found these books completely unputdownable. Before I knew it I was over 100 pages in and desperate to read on.
They say ‘never judge a book by its cover’, but let’s face it, we all do, and rightly so! A good cover should tell you enough about the book to pique your interest so that you pick it up and open up to the first page. The cover is a way of setting the scene, if you like, and it’s always a challenge trying to come up new ideas. In the end, we garnered most of our inspiration from the titles themselves.
The first book in the series, The Chatelaine, was by far, the most straightforward. The word ‘chatelaine’ has two meanings; it can be used to denote the mistress of a large house or a decorative way of carrying keys. The moment where the keys to Rochford Manor are handed to the naïve and innocent Willow, symbolic of her new role as Chatelaine, is pivotal to the story, and the beginning of a dramatic chain of events that will change her life forever. I also felt that the key was a good image to start this series with, as by reading this first novel, you’re unlocking the door into a world of the Rochford family.
The second title, The Wilderling, also offered us a clear direction in terms of cover design, as like a ‘wilderling’ – a cultivated flower that manages to live in the wild – the heroine of this story, Lucienne Rochford, has survived her terrible early years in France. In discussions with the designer we both felt that as this novel is set during World War I, a poppy would be extremely fitting.
Putting together the cover for the third novel was by far the most challenging. Even though it’s my favourite title of the series, The Dynasty doesn’t lend itself to any particular object to focus on like the other two, and we felt it was important to keep a sense of continuity with the cover style for all three books.
I found myself somewhat stumped until I was watching a local news item one evening about a box of letters recently discovered in an attic. They were written by a soldier who had fought during World War II and had sent them home to his sweetheart from the front line. After watching that news story, I knew I’d hit on the perfect image for the third cover. Aside from the obvious association with the historical period, and indeed, letters do play a key role in this novel, it seemed particularly appropriate as these novels have been published before. When I read them for the first time last year, I felt how I can imagine the person who discovered those lost letters must have felt – as though they’d uncovered a genuine treasure that they had to share.
Fabulous stories, brilliantly told, populated with captivating characters never go out of style. As an editor, it’s what we’re looking for in every submission we read with the hope that we find our own literary version of the LBD – timeless and classic.
We’re publishing these three novels one a month throughout May, June and July. Also look out for the second series we’re publishing by Claire Lorrimer, the Women of Fire trilogy, coming this Autumn.
Courtesy of Lucy and Piatkus I have FIVE (5) copies of ‘The Chatelaine‘ to give away to FIVE lucky winners! This giveaway is for UK Residents Only (publisher’s request) and ends 11th May 2011!
All you have to do to enter is the following:
1. Leave a comment for Lucy
3. One entry per person please