The old adage is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. An author must judge the rightness of a cover by the book they have crafted. It must resonate with the story, have visual appeal in large and thumbnail sizes and carry text with aplomb.
I have written about the trials of coming up with a succinct title for the next story in my Purana Qila Stories series. Finding the right artwork was no bed of roses either… until I found the essence of my story and a title that captured that truth: The Well-Tended Garden.
With that title in mind, there was one image that jumped out at me. The photograph speaks volumes about a beautifully cultivated, but hidden love — in the case of my story, it is a modest, restrained middle-aged love; one that can only be spied through the window of a crumbling facade (the figurative is suggested by the fabulously textured wall of the Qutb Minar in Delhi). My daughter used her incredible graphic designer’s eye to make it work as a book cover.
The Well-Tended Garden will be released before the end of this month, moving forward fourteen years from Safiyah’s journey to Lahore at the time of Partition (The Dust Beneath Her Feet) and a few years after Imran has returned from working as a doctor in England (A Change in the Weather).
Safiyah has returned from Lahore without her husband and made a life as a servant at Purana Qila, while her daughters pursue their education for the chance of a better life. There is a wedding in the house: Imran is finally getting married and Safiyah and her daughters are enlisted in the preparations, unaware that their own lives will be changed irrevocably soon. Safiyah is given a second chance of love with a man who has long admired her in silence, but she is a mother first. What is the best decision for a family that has known suffering and loss? And how will that decision affect Safiyah’s daughters, Henna and Laila, who have also been vulnerable to the unspoken longings of the heart?
The Well-Tended Garden will be released in March 2013.