A Carnation by Any Other Name

What’s an author to do when her book stubbornly refuses to fit easily into one genre? I think it’s safe to say that this is definitely the case for The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. Lauren posted on her website a few years ago about the marketing changes that Pink I went through before it hit the shelves for the first time. Originally, NAL wanted to market the book as chick lit, but they made a last-minute decision to drop that angle and concentrate more on the historical fiction aspect.

Off the top of my head, I would have called Pink I “historical fiction.” The other genres that seem to pop up most frequently are romance, suspense, mystery, and chick lit (or “women’s fiction” depending on your philosophical bent). Some people might say, “What does it matter? It’s just a good book!” But we just love to LABEL things, don’t we? If you are like me, it probably makes your little heart flutter to be able to put something in its appropriate box – to know where it belongs. I know I’m not alone here. If you take a look at Pink I on GoodReads, you’ll find a list that is 26 pages in length (not kidding – check it out) that shows how other readers have categorized it. You get everything from “dual-story” and “cultural>France” to “books going to college with me” and “holy historical fiction batman.” Readers love to categorize their books, even if those categories don’t make sense to anyone else.

With so many different genre angles to choose from, I can only imagine the struggle that the art department experienced trying to create a cover for Pink I. On that note, I’ve put together a little gallery of the different covers that have been considered or used for publication, both here in the US and abroad:

Pink Chick Lit first ed  mass market
 Original “chick lit” cover  US first edition  US mass market paperback
 large print  original uk  British pb
 US large print edition  Original UK cover  UK paperback cover
 german  turkish  japan
 German cover  Turkish cover  Japanese cover


Which cover is your favorite? And, if you were describing Pink I to a potential reader, how would you label it?

16 thoughts on “A Carnation by Any Other Name

  1. I liked the German cover the best! I usually describe it to people as a historical romance novel with a modern story line (chick lit for lack of a better term).

  2. Reblogged this on Inspiration in Creation and commented:
    You all know I love book cover art and the Pink Carnation series, so this post was right up my alley! Check it out, and the super exciting Pink Carnation series read-along with give-aways, author appearances and general awesomeness over at the Bubblebath Reader if you are love the Pinks or are looking for something new and exciting to read. And never fear, I haven’t abandoned you. I’ll be back. Just as soon as I finish my grad school homework….

  3. My preference is actually the US large print edition because it is the only cover where the top of the head is intact. I also preferred the fine art covers that the Pinks were originally published with. I too miss them and yes, I too wonder what they would have chosen for the cover for Miss Gwen’s story.

  4. My favorites are US first edition and UK paperback. Glad they ditched the chick lit cover, as I probably would have been less inclined to pick it up. I think the US first edition seems romantic/chickified enough that I wouldn’t have expected the book to be a historical treatise, but judging from some of the Goodreads reviews there were plenty of people who were surprised by the romance!

    It’s always interesting to see how people choose to label a book, but also to see if books marketed in a certain way meet readers’ expectations. I picked up a popular piece of historical fiction this past year (which shall go unnamed) with a title and jacket blurb that seemed to indicate that it would contain some thrills/suspense. There was a lot of buzz about this author and a lot of historical fiction readers seemed to have liked this book, but it was a total disappointment to me. The author had obviously spent a ton of time on research, but then tried to cram every last detail into the book at the expense of both the pacing and any serious attempt at plot development. Sticklers for historical accuracy were probably in heaven, but it took some extreme willpower for me to slog through to the end.

  5. I love the 1st editions best…..so beautiful. I wonder why her publisher felt they had to “modernize” the cover art…..the original covers were what attracted me to read the Pinks in the first place. The last one I bought in hardcover was The Orchid Affair.
    The large print version is also very beautiful, but the last five, while attractive, don’t really represent the era or the story. The German one is too provocative and the UK too modern.
    I hope you post the different covers every month, it’s nice to see the variety,

    • The last one printed in Hardcover was Garden Intrigue, the last 2 went straight to paperback, I suspect the next one will be too. I always buy a Hard copy for my library, read it and then get a paperback for re-reading and loaning. Now I have to find a bookbinder, once 12 gets released I’ll need to buy a second new copy of each of the last 3 and get them bound so I have 12 hardback copies. I too have been disappointed with the new cover art (I dislike the cropped heads immensely).

  6. I like the US first edition – it’s pink and has a carnation. As Mel said, the cover and title got my attention. The last few covers can’t compare with the first books in the series.

    As far as genre, I would classify it as a historical romance mystery.

  7. Pingback: Pink I: What’s In A Genre? « Lauren Willig – News and Events

  8. I love the first edition US cover.
    The chick-lit cover is pretty cool, not what I expected.
    I think of this series as a historical series and that’s how I describe it to friends.

  9. Pingback: Pink II: Cover Madness | The Bubblebath Reader

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s