Guest Post: Inexplicable Bantam Book Covers!

This week’s guest post comes from Peggy in Illinois. We struck up a conversation about Emilie Loring covers we had seen, and this is the result… Thank you, Peggy! 

Did the Publisher Not Read the Books?

Little House electric kitchen

There is a good reason not to judge a book by its cover. Sometimes, the cover completely misrepresents the story, the location, the era, the season, the characters’ moods, even hair color.  Bantam Books published several of Emilie Loring’s books in the 1980s with updated covers.  At this point in time, Mrs. Loring’s books could be considered historical fiction, written in the era in which the books are set.  We can learn about the past from these books.   Can you imagine a cover for a Little House book with Mrs. Ingalls slaving over the electric range, vacuuming the cabin with an Electrolux?

Never mind that. Bantam saw fit to use illustrations and photos that didn’t quite mesh with the settings of Emilie Loring novels. Additionally, some looked way too somber and moody for the spiritedness of our leading ladies and men.  The adventure and danger that awaited the characters were quite overlooked.  Here are some examples.  Have a laugh at how bad they are!


Bantam Adventure Calling
What’s happening in this picture?!

I Hear Adventure Calling takes place during summer in a Maine seaside village soon after VE Day. Yet, Bantam gives us 1980s hair and knit wool turtleneck.  The couple looks so solemn.  The reader has no idea what adventure and danger await our heroine and hero.  It will be quite a surprise to read about tennis tournaments and clambakes on the beach.



Bantam Crossroad
This is not Dr. Zhivago. 

A Certain Crossroad takes place also during the summer in a Maine seaside village.  Our charming heroine is quite the tomboy and can handle modern machinery.  The cover gives us no idea of the dangers that await our competent heroine.  Again, Bantam gives us a winter scene, however, with a solemn couple nestled in a horse-pulled sleigh.  This is not Dr. Zhivago.  Emilie Loring’s story is light on melodrama and human tragedy.


Bantam Keepers of the Faith
No sign of an ice storm.

Perhaps one should be grateful that Bantam came up with a spring/summer setting for this next book, Keepers of the Faith.  The story is set in Washington, DC, during World War II.   Yes, a couple could be boating in the Tidal Basin or any other scenic waterway near Washington.  But the image doesn’t quite set the mood for wartime Washington.  The more glaring problem, however, is that the story takes place from September to December.  On the day of the climactic action, there is an ice storm.  A person unfamiliar with Emilie Loring’s novel will be quite surprised by the events therein.


Bantam Great World
At least they’re moody?

Here we have another story set in Washington, D.C., in the run up to World War II.  Yet, Bantam gives It’s a Great World a tropical setting for the cover art.  Further, the young lady’s long hair looks circa 1960s.  Again, the cover provides no sense of the adventure, intrigue or danger that lies within.   We should, however, give credit where due.  The illustration depicts conflict between Eve and Jeff.


Bantam was selling sappy romance novels with these covers, not novels of adventure and intrigue.  Yes, romance was central to the novels, but Emilie Loring’s ladies were not passive women awaiting their hero to fulfill their lives.  They had active, full lives.  They were up to their eyeballs in intrigue.

The young ladies didn’t fall for the heroes out of loneliness, but because they loved and admired the men, who in turn loved the heroines.  One suspects that the staff didn’t bother to read the books.  But we will…and enjoy the adventure inside!

I Hear Adventure Calling cover
Original art: I Hear Adventure Calling




14 thoughts on “Guest Post: Inexplicable Bantam Book Covers!

  1. oh Lord, covers. I must admit when first reading Emilie’s books, I saw romance in the covers, not what was in the story. I’ve learned. LOL Especially when having covers made for my work, for example, The Great Fruitcake Bake-off. I got chocolate and hearts. The story is set at Christmas and involves a contest. I wrote the publisher and the cover was fixed. But I shouldn’t have had to, especially when I filled out the art sheet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been well aware of the mismatched covers on the paperback editions. I had been collecting and discarding the old editions as new better copies were located in used book stores. So I even noticed between one printing and the next that cover images were switched between titles. I finally searched art magazines and found paintings I thought appropriate to each story. Then with a little computer manipulation I created my own paper jacket covers that I wrapped around each paperback edition. I now have a complete set of the 50 stories in soft cover that I find appealing to look at while the extra paper wrap gives each book additional protection from deterioration. Even those are becoming scarce now days.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Just tell me how to attach the photos to this or if you have an email address I can use and I’ll send them to you. It will take quite a few I think, because there are 50 of them and Google only allows about 10 or 12 attachments each email. Love all the information you’re providing about Emilie’s life. I always wanted to know what she was really like to have had so much romance in her soul.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As I’ve mentioned, I’m re-reading EL books this summer, for the first time in many years. The Solitary Horseman is quite a favorite. I may have been the first EL book I read. In any case, the good news is that my 1980s Bantam paperback cover is the same as your 1960s cover in your post on that book. I have a fuller background, not just the characters as they fit in the box.


  4. Thank you for your feedback. The off-base covers are quite funny. I haven’t seen the original or otherwise older hardback jacket covers. I have bought all paperbacks new and used over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve always thought those covers were funny! Thanks for an enjoyable commentary. You inspired me to go to the bookshelf and pull out the old hardbacks and look at all the great covers!

    Liked by 1 person

Please write your comment here.

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s