I’m delighted to reveal here the front cover of my forthcoming (fifth) novel, The Madwoman’s Coat. Due for release in March, the book will be published under the Framework Press imprint.
Now is not the right time to disclose much about the story it contains. But despite the proviso that ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover,’ potential readers may be able to draw a few inferences from this juxtaposition of images.
The human figure in the centre of the design is taken from an 1880 oil painting by Susan Macdowell Eakins, ‘Woman Sewing.’ As its placement here suggests, my novel also revolves around a woman, and needlework is one of the things this central character does — though she is no ordinary seamstress. She works creatively within the context of the Arts and Crafts movement associated with William Morris and others.
The strange pattern surrounding her on the cover may seem to offer a puzzling contrast: whatever it signifies, it evokes a different period and different culture from the late 19th-century world to which this female figure apparently belongs. It reproduces one of the treasures of the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik, a 17th-century embroidered artwork known as the Riddarateppid (Coverlet of Knights).
What connection is there between this antique Icelandic bedspread embroidery and a woman such as the person whose image is superimposed on it here? That’s just one of the enigmas explored in The Madwoman’s Coat. Another is how either of those things may be linked to a lunatic asylum in the colony of Western Australia, where parts of the action take place.
More about this book soon, as its release date approaches.