This Looks Strangely Familiar …

'The Scent of Secrets' by Jane Thynne
‘The Scent of Secrets’ by Jane Thynne (Published in September 2015 by Ballantine Books)

The Scent of Secrets, by Jane Thynne, is historical fiction set in 1938 and published last month in the US and Canada by Ballantine Books and Doubleday Canada. “The novel richly fuses fact and fiction with a cast of real Nazis and their British admirers, such as the Mitford sisters and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor,” according to its Goodreads page. It “puts a new spin on an ever-fascinating era, fraught with glamor, political tension, tragedy, and romance.” What an interesting idea!

To make things more confusing, it was published under the title A War of Flowers in the UK and is the third in a series (although The Scent of Secrets is the first of the series to be published in North America, according to this Q & A by the author). The second book in the series, The Winter Garden, looks like this:

'The Winter Garden' by Jane Thynne
‘The Winter Garden’ by Jane Thynne (Paperback published in 2014 by Simon & Schuster)

I guess Jane Thynne’s publishers really, really like that 1949 photograph by Frances McLaughlin-Gill.

By the way, if you’re new to this blog and you’re wondering what I’m going on about, five years ago I wrote a novel about political tension, glamour, tragedy and romance, set in 1938 and featuring real-life Nazis and their British supporters, including the Mitford sisters and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. It looked like this:

'The FitzOsbornes in Exile' - North American hardcover
‘The FitzOsbornes in Exile’, North American hardcover, released on April 5th, 2011

6 thoughts on “This Looks Strangely Familiar …”

  1. If its any consolation this sort of copycatting is probably a sign that the original did its job well. Private Eye used to feature a lot of this kind of thing. It would be nice if publishers could take rather more care.

    1. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? The strange thing is that Ballantine Books and Doubleday Canada are both part of Penguin Random House now – and Knopf, an imprint of Random House, published my book. So it’s my own publisher responsible for all these North American covers.

  2. I was just doing some book purchasing and stumbled across the cover of The Scent of Secrets, knowing your book and being immediately put off. I’m not going to lie…as a librarian, I see variations of the same cover over and over again (young women in ball gowns, etc)…but the same photograph with books about such similar topics just doesn’t sit well with me. I ranted about it to my co-workers and then realized that you had already blogged about it.

    1. It’s annoying for readers, librarians, booksellers and authors, isn’t it? I wish more publishers would put a bit more effort into creating imaginative, interesting, appropriate book covers, rather than just copying whatever’s done well recently.

  3. And let’s not forget Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro and Consequences of the Heart by Peter Cunningham published by Harper Collins and Gemma Media.

    1. Thanks, Jesse! I didn’t know about that 2016 Kathleen Tessaro cover. The Peter Cunningham book came out at about the same time as my book and I blogged about it here. It’s certainly a popular photo with book cover designers.

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