While it’s true we ought not to judge a book by its cover, I can certainly affirm that we still pick up a book based on its cover. We may even buy it for its cover. The cover evokes a response. Pick me up! Pick me up!
And I have to say, I love the cover of my friend Beth White’s new book, Tour de Force. I like covers that combine a bit of the human element (not the whole body or even the whole face) an intriguing color palette, a font that communicates story, and a title that draws me, introduces hints of conflict with its very word choice.

Everything about this cover fits the bill for me, include the elegant toe shoes paired with the opposing word “force.” Here’s what the book is about.

A Passion for Dance ~
Gilly Kincade is a rising star on the New York ballet scene. Dancing is her life’s passion, second only to her love for Jesus, and she believes her faith sets her apart–but hasn’t held her back. Chosen for a plum role in a new ballet choreographed for her, it seems the sky’s the limit. Then she meets Jacob Ferrar . . .

A Passion for God~
Jacob Ferrar has left behind the glittering temptations of stardom in New York ballet. He has established a reputation as a brilliant, innovative artistic director of a regional dance company in Alabama, with a vision for choreography that glorifies God and encourages the audience. In fact, he’s certain nothing could make him go back . . .

When Jacob offers Gilly the lead in his original Easter ballet, she begins to reevaluate what she’s willing to sacrifice for dance. And he sees exciting potential of shining light on the world’s dark stage. But their brilliant first performance is destroyed by a terrible accident, and Gilly and Jacob find themselves facing an uncertain future. Together, they dance the fine line between personal vision and God’s will, listening for the beat of the Father’s heart.

Here’s Beth in her own words:

Q: Beth, what inspired you to write a novel about ballet dancers?
A: Gillian Kincade was a character in last year’s Off the Record. As the off-beat teenage sister of Judge Laurel Kincade, Gilly took on such a distinct personality (as characters often do) that she demanded a story of her own. Readers have written to ask if she follows through with her crush on musical heartthrob Tucker McGaughan…To be blunt, no. Too easy. But rest assured, Tucker makes his appearance in Tour de Force.

Q: So were you ever a dancer yourself?
A: If you could see the bruises on my knees just from trying to make it across the Wendy’s parking lot, you wouldn’t ask that question. But since you did…I once took tap, jazz and rudimentary ballet as a child. I learned just enough to pick up elements of the dance language. Everything I know about professional ballet has come from interviewing and observing real dancers, notably the exquisite Kathryn Morgan of New York City Ballet and Kathy Thibodeaux of Ballet Magnificat! in Jackson, Mississippi.

Q: What spiritual take-away is involved in a story about dancers?
A: I was interested in exploring challenges to Christian artists in general. The Scripture I kept coming back to is Luke 12:48: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Debates have gone one for decades (probably centuries, for all I know) regarding Christian art. For example, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, the story goes, discussed whether the world needs more “Christian writers” or “writers who are Christian.” The only way I knew how to tackle the subject was to create characters who must face those questions, take a stand, and either live for God—or not.

It’s my belief that flawed people are more interesting than perfect ones. They’re also more real. Though Gilly and Jacob aren’t “real” in the obvious sense, they do struggle to cope with universal issues. How much overt “witnessing” should a Christian performer or teacher do? What’s the line of grace between acceptance (“tolerance”) of the lifestyle choices of non-believing friends and sticking up for morality and truth? How should we respond when God seems to pull the rug out from under our dreams and desires? Are Christians allowed to feel disappointed? My job as a novelist is not to preach the answers to those questions, but to draw pictures of possibilities and to point readers back to God’s Word—the only place to find answers. If I

succeed in making readers think and pray, then I’m happy.

Q: This book has a subtitle, “A Love Story.” Is there significance to that?
A: Well, I’ve always considered myself a romance writer, but this one is truly focused on the development of relationships—not just between the hero and heroine. Tour de Force explores friendship, family love, and God’s love. It was a very satisfying book to write. I hope readers will like it.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone. On Monday, my thoughts on The Zookeeper’s Wife. . .

Author: Susan

This post has 3 Comments

  1. Clair on April 17, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I will have to look for this book. I enjoyed the other books that she has written.

  2. Nicole on April 18, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Maybe we ought not to “judge a book by its cover” when it applies to people, but with books: yessirree, we will and do judge by covers. And I’m totally for that. Covers are of imperative importance to me, and they must do what you described. I’ve seen some bad covers this last year–not in the sense of the art or design by themselves, but that they had no relation to the story within the framework of those covers! Very disappointing.
    One of them implied the story would be “chick lit”, but it certainly wasn’t. The cover and the back cover copy really did an injustice to the story. I never would’ve picked it up in the store (I received it to review).

  3. Susan Meissner on April 20, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    I totally agree. Covers are meant to woo us. If this were not so, they would be blank.

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