Random House went through 100 designs before deciding on Hausfrau’s cover

Watching this video takes just more than one minute. But choosing the cover of Jill Alexander Essbaum’s New York Times best-selling Hausfrau was a lengthy task. An article on Mashable explains:

“I worked with five designers, one illustrator and two letterers on more than a hundred versions of the jacket,” said Robbin Schiff, executive art director at Random House Publishing Group.

The design, as Schiff sees it, should give readers a clue about the experience, or how they will feel while reading the book, “rather than giving away the plot or the the details of the story.”

“The final design, with its stark Swiss typography against the moody and lush floral grouping, conveys a sensual but claustrophobic atmosphere,” Schiff said.

That mood is especially fitting for a book like Hausfrau, which tells the tragic story of adultery and a breakdown of a woman and her marriage.

I don’t think I agree with the Mashable reporter’s use of the word “tragic” in describing Hausfrau. I’d use the word “uncomfortable,” or maybe “darkly insightful.” And as I’m typing this, I’m wondering how much of my different perspective comes from the fact that I’m a woman, and the Mashable reporter is a man.

Hausfrau, which has been described as a “modern-day Anna Karenina,” is the story of 30-something-year-old Anna, an American living with her husband in Switzerland and struggling with isolation, among other challenges, because she can’t speak the language. Desperate to feel happy again, she tries to figure out her life through a series of new experiences, including German language classes, Jungian analysis and a series of sexual affairs that she enters with an ease that surprises even her.

As Jill and I talked about on the Literary New England Radio Show earlier this month, Hausfrau can be erotic, but at its heart it’s an exploration–an exploration of how we lose ourselves, and the imperfect choices that can help us find ourselves again. That doesn’t sound very tragic to me.

– Cindy Wolfe Boynton

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Deborah Harkness & The Book of Life coming to New England!

Look at all these people standing in line May 29 at Book Expo America for signed, early copies of Deborah Harkness’ The Book of Life, which will finally be released next week!! A former Massachusetts resident, Deb will be in New England for three of her first four book events: July 16 at The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass., July 17 at the Canaan Meetinghouse in Canaan, NH, and July 18 at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA. Visit http://deborahharkness.com/about-deborah/deborah-harkness-appearances/ for a complete list of upcoming readings and signings. But even if you can’t make any of them, you can still hear her speak! Deborah will bring her magic to the July 14 Literary New England Radio Show! Tune in at 8 >> http://www.blogtalkradio.com/literarynewengland

Former Connecticut resident Janice Clark is the author of “The Rathbones,” a gothic novel set in New England that chronicles 100 years of a once-prosperous seafaring dynasty … namely, the Rathbone family. If you missed hearing Janice live on the Literary New England Radio Show last month, click here to listen in the show’s archives. Inspired by The Odyssey and infused with the spirit and flavor of Moby Dick, The Rathbone features heroine and hero  Mercy and Mordecai—terrific names for a terrific novel!

Anyone who’s read Liza Klaussmann’s fantastic Tigers in Red Weather knows that cousins Nick and Helena looove their gin and tonics. Set on Martha’s Vineyard, the novel was just recently released in paperback. We’ll talk with Liza and give away copies of Tigers on the July 15 Literary New England Radio Show. To whet (or really wet!) your appetite, here’s Liza on how to make the perfect Vineyard gin and tonic. For those who’d love the chance to meet Liza face to face, she and Mary Simses, author of The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café, will be atLadies Who Launch – Southwest Connecticut on July 18 in Darien, Connecticut.

Book trailer for Massachusetts native Amor Towles’ new novella “Eve in Hollywood,” released today by Penguin. The story focuses on Evelyn Ross, one of the most  memorable characters in Amor’s best-selling novel “Rules of Civility.” Published as an ebook, “Eve in Hollywood”takes Eve (and readers!) into the heart of old Hollywood—to the elegant rooms of the Beverly Hills Hotel, the fabled tables of Antonio’s, the amusement parks on the Santa Monica piers, the afro-Cuban dance clubs off Central Avenue and, ultimately, to the set of Gone with the Wind. We had the pleasure of talking with Amor about Rules of Civility, which you can hear in the Literary New England Radio Show Archives.