Monday, November 23, 2009

Old-Timey Cover Judging: The Quicksilver Pool

Donations are all the same, usually. Most days, the donation bin overflows with pocket-sized paperbacks that cost $6.99 at the grocery store. Sometimes, grandpa clears out his shelves and shelves of Louis L'Amour; other times grams is getting rid of evidence that links her to her romance novel obsession. Occasionally, we'll get a book-of-the-week type who reads their bestseller once before passing it on to us. But, for the most part, the bin is full of paperbacks that can fit in your purse.

Which is what made this most excellent novel stick out even more:
First Glance: It's got a bit of that oil-painty look often employed in Regency romance novel covers. But there's just something so adorably old-fashioned about this cover. Maybe it's her face, which has the pristine look of a 50s screen siren; maybe it's his lantern-jawed facial structure. It could be the font, which seems strangely old and modern at the same time. It might be the colors - raise your hand if you want that pink dress! I'm not sure, but the old-fashioned look of this book had me intrigued. Score: 4 out of 5

Second-Page Surprise!(forgive the photo, which was taken with a co-workers phone)
When one opens The Quicksilver Pool, one finds yet another detailed rendering of the story's characters. I'm assuming that's our heroine in the fabulous green dress, though her hair color seems to have changed. There appears to be a stiff, perhaps disapproving, matronly figure ensconced in the middle of the parlor. The red drapey curtains give it an ominous feel, so immediately I'm thinking the matronly figure might have sinister tendencies. Score: 4 out of 5

Title: The Quicksilver Pool - it's hard to judge this one by my usual standards, because I'm usually looking at books from the last twenty or so years. Also, I don't know anything about quicksilver as a substance, so I can't go into any symbolic connotations. But the name has a romantic sound to it, so I'm giving it high marks. Score: 4 out of 5

Back-of-the-Book (or Inside Flap, as is the case): This one is best described in movie-pitch terms: it's Jane Eyre meets Gone with the Wind, but with an angry ghost! Intrigued? Listen to this:
"The great Tyler mansion on Staten Island became a house of menace and hidden danger for Lora Blair from the moment she arrived there as the new bride of Wade Tyler."
House of menace and hidden danger! I love it!
"Years before, Wade's first wife Virginia had died there under mysterious circumstances. No one dared speak openly of her death to Lora, and every day Lora faced increasing hostility from everyone at the Tyler house."
I'm guessing that imperious-looking matronly character is the main source of the increasing hostility our Lora faces.
"With mounting horror Lora soon realized that some unseen, unknown person was maneuvering her to the edge of what could be a fatal "accident." Was the same death being prepared for her?"
I love the wording of the final question - what an odd concept, death being prepared. Plotted, yes. Planned, sure. But prepared? It sounds so strange, yet it makes me want to read the book, in hopes of finding more interesting, out-of-place phrasing. Score: 4 out of 5

Final Score: 16 out of 20 - Though qualifying for the Silver Deveraux, The Quicksilver Pool stands by itself in Cover Judging. It's not ridiculous or mock-worthy; it's also not the most amazing book cover ever. It's simply an interesting bit of forgotten-novel history.

P.S. Here are a few different paperback editions of the book:I think our cover is the best, though.


Melis said...

Hmmm. I'm intrigued.

Incidentally, Quicksilver is another name for the element Mercury, which is silvery-colored and liquid at room temperature. It's very fast-flowing, moves at the slightest touch, and allows heavy objects to float on its surface. People have long been fascinated by it, and the word "quicksilver" is often used poetically, particularly in older writing. Before people realized that it was highly toxic, it was used ornamentally as well, such as representing water in miniature models or in landscaping.

For more info, see: