Gamache Goes Abroad – The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home takes us all the way to Romania this week as we examine two different jacket approaches for Louise’s tenth novel. 

The Romanian jacket designer took a very literal approach to the plot of the book, depicting a man, who we would assume is Peter, walking away towards the banks of the St. Lawrence. 

Our version takes a more symbolic approach. Here is designer David Rotstein, in his own words:

The image is by Clarence Gagnon entitled Evening on the North Shore. The painting is from 1924, just before Gagnon left his home on the banks of the St. Lawrence to live in Paris, ‘a long way from home’. Some people don’t immediately see that the image as an upside-down landscape, and only see an abstraction. The back of the jacket shows the painting right side up, helping the viewer realize that it’s one image shown two different ways. Those who do immediately see the front cover as being upside down are likely to interpret the visual as suggesting that things have gone awry, or are not what they seem . . . a home turned upside down. While I don’t intend for people to necessarily notice this one final thing, the inspiration came from the passage in the book when Clara realizes that they have been looking at the painting upside down. I loved Louise’s lines about rotating the painting, and seeing how “day became night…sky became water…smiles became frowns…laughter became sorrow.”
Lastly, the jacket was printed on a textured paper stock which has the appearance and tactile feel of real painter’s canvas. It’s a very unusual surface for a book jacket, and gives the book a very special feel. 

When you first saw the US cover for The Long Way Home, did you notice that the image was upside down?

In general, do you prefer jacket treatments that are more literal or more metaphorical?

Discussion on “Gamache Goes Abroad – The Long Way Home

  1. Michele H. says:

    Well…Wow! I hadn’t realized that the jacket was an upside-down visualization! I order email editions to download, so I didn’t think to delve deeper into the “cover” present at the beginning of the download.
    Of course, I was very eager to begin Louise’s new book!
    Given the eventual story line, I prefer the Hungarian interpretation as it reflects the long distance that Peter has chosen to withdraw from Clara and everyone else. He was always a troubled soul.

  2. Having the book on E-reader one loses the back cover and all that a physical book entails. On the plus side, all of the Gamache series are on one easily portable devise and I can re-read them at any time.

  3. Linda Meadows says:

    In this case I like the Romanian one better. Whether literal or metaphorical, I like an easily identified visual. Having said that, I rarely pay attention to covers, other than the author’s name. When I see Louise Penny on the cover, the rest could be blank. I already know I’m in for a great read.

  4. Marie Rutter says:

    I like the story behind the US cover and I like the unsettled feeling it portrays. I definitely need to pay more attention to the covers when I get the books! I’m going to enjoy perusing this one.

  5. Sandy Warawa says:

    My first thought was I preferred the visual interpretation of the Romanian cover. But then I am always drawn to pictures of piers appearing to disappear in the horizon. But after reading the inspiration and detail that explained the North American cover, I can’t help but truly appreciate the thought and detail that went into its creation.
    So my nod goes to this version.

  6. LesleyJ says:

    I prefer the North American cover for all the reasons the illustrator explains, and how it is inspired by the content of the story. The Romanian cover image, to me, seems to show the opposite of coming home, as the figure is walking away from land on a pier or boardwalk taking them out over the water, on a journey away from wherever they are. Admittedly that could be a journey to home, but there’s no sense of a destination in the image. I wonder if it would work better if the figure were farther away and walking towards the viewer.

  7. Linda Anger says:

    To me, the Romanian cover is too common – I can only assume the designer didn’t know the story and thus chose an overused image of someone walking into the distance. The “way home” in this book is so much more than a :walk,” don’t you think? I love the American/Canadian cover. Did NOT realize the front was and upside down version, or that the back was right-side up – how very clever!

    I do buy the books, not the e-versions, and I have long loved the texture of this one. Minotaur Books deserves many kudos!

  8. Lin Robinson says:

    The comment that one reader rarely looked at book covers reminded me of my own experience. I had read “Five Days at Memorial” for my book group a few years back. The book tells the story of staff and patients at New Orleans’ Memorial Hospital during the chaotic days they were stranded without water or electricity by the floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina. I hadn’t paid attention to the plain black and white book cover, although I had a vague feeling of distaste whenever I picked it up. Finally I really looked at it and was struck by the design’s now obvious message: this was water-stained paper – I could almost smell the mildew. This was paper that could have been recovered from the hospital’s files after the storm. Since then I’ve made it a practice to actively look at the covers of the books I’m reading. Many are unmemorable, and you have to wonder if the designer ever read the book. But others can be intriguing.

    So I have been enjoying this series comparing covers. This time I come down firmly on the side of the North American cover. Thanks for the commentary by the designer.

  9. Gail Newman says:

    Oh, the North American version, for sure. Three reasons: I agree with LesleyJ that for me, there is no sense of destination in the photo and it seems more like a “leaving” than a “return.” I was also struck by Linda Anger’s comment that this coming home was more than a walk. Finally, I love the colors of the NA cover. (That might be because I’m a quilter.)

  10. Maureen Miller says:

    I love piers and would gravitate to the pier first. However, with the person walking away to no known destination, it conflicts with the title. I’m also a lover of blues, and want to touch the blue cover and caress the book because of the emotional bond the various blue hues provide. The North American version gets my vote this week. Thanks again Louise for the opportunity to voice my opinions. ☮️

  11. Elle says:

    In the Romanian version at the end of the pier there are dark clouds and water…no way out. It is bleak, unpromising and yet the figure walks that way. I think it better portrays the psychological elements of the story better than the ambiguous upside down American/Canadian cover but I do love the blues in the A/C cover.

  12. Pat says:

    I didn’t realize it was upside down. That was a bit of a mystery in itself. I do love the colors, but they leave me a bit cold. Perfect for this tale!

  13. Alice Briggs says:

    I much prefer the American cover. I don’t like having the person on the Romanian cover; I like to imagine how the characters look, based on Louise’s descriptions. The US cover really evokes the tone and atmosphere of this book.

  14. Linda says:

    Why do people think that because the person on the Romanian cover is walking away from us he is not going home? To me, the image is beautifully apt, not the least because when one takes the long way to go somewhere, it necessarily implies detours. This image shows distance and desolation, and pretty clearly shows that the traveller (Peter) is still far from his destination. Sure, Peter’s world has been turned upside-down, but I wouldn’t notice that in scanning the shelves of a bookstore. So I vote for the Romanian cover.

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