The Nightingales of Troy
Author: Alice Fulton
Designer: Kelly Blair
Art Directory: Albert Tang
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Imagery: The nightingale art is from Ancestry Images. The background is scanned paper.
A beautiful cover with a great story. Love it!
From Kelly Blair
The cover for The Nightingales of Troy was a real pleasure to work on. Thanks in no small part to art director Albert Tang.
The book is comprised of short stories about multiple generations of women from the same family in Troy, NY. The characters are lush and quirky and a bit fantastical. The town, situated along the Hudson river, has such a magnetic pull on the family that the river becomes another character in the story.
Before sitting down to design the cover I did a lot of image research. The time period of the stories spans from 1908 through the 1990's. While looking at all of the images my first reaction was to feel a little overwhelmed. This little collage (above) is just a small fraction of what I'd gathered. How to convey such a range of stories on one cover?
A rainbow is mentioned in the book at one point. Because the cast of characters is so varied and colorful I thought that could be a good device to pull all of the threads together.
I imagined this piece of paper as something that's pulled out over the years and new birds are added as the family stories accumulate. The nightingales were an obvious choice for the cast of characters. The rainbow colors were a way to pull them together and give them individuality at the same time.
Albert and I went back and forth a bit about how much the paper in the background should be aged. In the end we circled back to the beginning and left it clean. The aging felt a bit cloying to me and I think it's more successful without it.
Of the comps I sent Albert, I still feel the pull of this one (above) that didn't get chosen. I like that it brings the river into the mix and has multiple layers, much like the stories in the book. I think I'm also just a sucker for a big
From Albert Tang
First, I've been a big fan of Kelly's work before I'd even heard of this book, especially her beautiful gems like Fieldwork and Jane Austen. I immediately knew I wanted to work with her, so the idea of working with Kelly had been festering in my mind for quite awhile. When Nightingales fell in my lap, guess who's name came spilling out? I instantly knew Kelly would be able to do something gorgeous with this. Essentially, all I needed to do was to stay out of Kelly's way, because every bit of input I had would only mess things up.
The "Nightingales" referred to Florence Nightingale. The women in the book are all struggling with the care of others as nurses, waitresses, mothers, and teachers. The author preferred that instead of seeing the birds, she would like to see Florence Nightingale lamps (Aladdin's genie lamp). There was a lot of back and forth, and mostly with Kelly and Jill Bialosky's (the great editor on this book) patience, we managed to convince the author that the birds were beautifully appropriate, and that the lamps would make an appearance on the spine and back cover.
So all credit should go to Kelly and Jill.