I just finished first time novelist Claire Thomas’ novel Fugitive Blue and it struck me how close in structure it was to Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book. Claire Thomas’ book was promoted quite heavily by Allen&Unwin when it first came out in 2008 but sales, I think, were disappointing. Could this be because of the wishy-washy cover? It shows no hint that this is essentially a historical novel but suggests it is some high brow literary affair on the nature of art. Compare this to the cover for Brooks’ immensely popular People of the Book. There is immediately human interest, the marks of age and the clues the protagonist finds in the ancient text she is restoring (insect wing, a strand of hair).
Fortuitously I went to Claire Thomas’ website and found that A&U are reissuing FB in paperback B format this year and guess what? They’ve changed the cover. This one is better. At least we have an image of a woman (possibly supposed to be the narrator or the 15th century painter of the panel she is restoring) even if we only get her back view but the colour is still insipid. In the novel the colour in question is ultramarine, originally made from crushed lapis-lazuli, which I thought was a darker blue but I could stand corrected on that.