It’s hard to believe but it’s just a few months short of 3 years since I read Brian Moore’s The Emperor of Ice Cream.  I took a strong dislike to the adolescent male lead. Although the book was a 4-star read, my project to read all of Brian Moore’s novels stalled.  Even so cries of  delight were heard chez Lizzy when I caught sight of page 43 in Bloomsbury’s 2012 spring catalogue and discovered that Bloomsbury have republished 5 Moore novels since November.  Ever curious, I contacted Trâm-Anh Doan, Bloomsbury’s paperback editor, who kindly answered my questions.

Q: What was the impetus that led to Bloomsbury republishing this set?

A: Brian Moore has long been a cherished writer on Bloomsbury’s list. We first published No Other Life in 1993, followed two years later by The Statement,which went on to become a classic and, later, a film starring Michael Caine in 2003. Up until recently, however, we had never published his books in paperback, and when the opportunity arose for us to do so, we leapt at the chance to give a new lease of life to these books in both print and digital formats.

Q: Why these 5?

A: We had originally published No Other Life, The Statement and The Magician’s Wife as hardbacks in the 90s so it made perfect sense to revive them with new paperback and eBook editions. Then, much to our delight, the agent also told us that we could acquire the rights for I Am Mary Dunne and The Doctor’s Wife – the latter of which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1976. These five titles demonstrate the breadth of Brian Moore’s writing: he could write tightly-written thrillers likeThe Statement as well as he could write nuanced, subtle stories of female desire, as he did in I Am Mary Dunne.

Q: What considerations went into the new branding?

A: We loved the black and white photographic approach that Harper Collins used for their most recent edition ofThe Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne and wanted to use that as a starting point for our designs. I briefed our designer, Greg Heinimann, to look for moody photographs that captured the atmosphere of particular scenes in each book, and he then applied a monochrome colour-wash to create a unified series look. We also needed a classy, authoritative typeface that would work well for a thriller like The Statement and for a love story like The Doctor’s Wife.

I have 4 of the 5 in hand …

and very handsome they are in their new livery.  To celebrate the publication of the final volume in the set, The Magician’s Wife,  Bloomsbury are sponsoring a blog giveaway of two Moore(ish) thrillers!

The Statement was the first Moore I read.  Pre-blog unfortunately so no review but it was the novel that inspired the goal of reading everything Moore read.  Here’s the book blurb:

Condemned to death in absentia for crimes against humanity, Pierre Brossard has lived in the shadows for more than forty years.  Now, at last, his past is threatening to catch up with him.  A new breed of government officials is determined to break decades of silence and expose the crimes of Vichy.  nder the harsh glare of the Provencal sun, Brossard is forced to abandon the monastery where he has been hiding and turn to old friends for support – but can he really outrun his past?

Based on the real-life case of Paul Touvier, a French war criminal long protected by the Church and government officials, The Statement combines profound moral questions with flawless plotting and breathless suspense.

I will read No Other Life sometime soon.  Perhaps you’d like to readalong? From the back of the book:

When Father Paul Michel, a missionary on the poor Caribbean island of Ganae, rescues a young boy from abject poverty, he unwittingly sets him on the road towards a dramatic and dangerous future.  For Jeannot grows up to become a visionary priest and, later, the first democratically elected leader in a country previously accustomed to dictatorships.  As Jeannot rises in power and makes deadly enemies of the corrupt army, the mulatto elite, drug dealers and the Catholic Church, Father Michel reluctantly finds himself drawn into a drama of faith and politics.

Fans of Grahame Greene will love these and I have 3 sets of both novels to giveaway. Simply leave a comment telling me why you’d like to read these and whether you’d be available for a readalong of No Other Life in early March.  (Though that is not a precondition of entry.)  The competition is open internationally and I will choose the lucky winners sometime on Sunday 5th February.