Anna From Away: Too Sexy for the States

I was notified by Goodreads that D.R. MacDonald has a new book coming out this month called The Ice Bridge. I really enjoyed his last novel, Anna From Away (see a brief review here,) so I clicked over and started reading the synopsis. Soon I realized that The Ice Bridge is Anna From Away under a different title. And different cover image. And a just slightly different description.

A little digging revealed that Anna From Away was published in Canada by Harper Collins Canada on September 11, 2012, and The Ice Bridge was published in the USA by Counterpoint on May 14, 2013.

Let’s compare and contrast:

Anna From Away by D.R. MacDonald     The Ice Bridge by D.R. MacDonald

Compare this line from the synopsis of Anna From Away:

Part erotic love story, part quest for home and heart, Anna From Away is a superbly crafted tale of love after love, a novel rich in atmosphere and infused with lyrical descriptions of land and sea. 

To the synopsis of The Ice Bridge:

Part love story, part moral fable, and part quest for home and heart, The Ice Bridge is a superbly crafted tale of love after love, a novel rich in atmosphere and infused with lyrical descriptions of land and sea.

Why was this book positioned as an erotic love story in Canada, and as a love story/moral fable in the States? In my opinion, “erotic love story” is pushing it a bit, but, sexual attraction and betrayal do play a big role in the story, and there is one sex scene in particular that is pretty darn steamy. In this post-Fifty Shades world, what is the American publisher afraid of but putting that out there?

Sexiness aside, the American title and cover are so BORING. I was really drawn to the cover of Anna From Away, but there’s nothing about The Ice Bridge that makes me want to read it.

I’m going to see if I can find anyone at Harper or Counterpoint who can tell me more. What do you think? The States just can’t handle all that maritime sexiness?


  1. Andrew

    A quick thought: Is “Anna From Away” a story about a woman finding empowerment through sexuality? Does the “erotic” dimension of the story imply an agency for the character? If so, I wonder if that’s the crux of it in terms of American sexual mores. If we consider it against “50 Shades of Grey” which, to my knowledge, is the story of carefully contained sexuality (in the sense that it is conducted under the direction and containment of male sexual desire), perhaps the danger of “Anna From Away” is that the erotic dimension is connected to “dangerous” female sexuality (again, you’d have to tell me, since I haven’t read it). There have certainly been enough examples of American culture’s discomfort with female sexual agency in the last few years to lend some credibility to the idea.

  2. lauratfrey

    Andrew, this is a very perceptive comment, considering you haven’t read either book (well, I don’t know, maybe you’ve read 50 Shades? heh.)

    Yes, I would say it is a story about a woman finding her identity and empowerment through sexuality. Not only that, but she breaks the rules – seduces her friend’s boyfriend – and isn’t punished for it. She still gets her man (a different man) in the end.

    Also, in 50 shades the female lead is a 21 year old virgin who submits to a rich, powerful, older man. Anna is 47. She’s been married and has had numerous affairs. The man she seduces is younger, and poorer, than she is.

    Pretty subversive stuff (sadly!)

  3. Andrew

    I’ve actually tried to borrow a copy of 50 Shades from a friend a couple of times, but have never been successful. I’d like to read it as a sort of cultural/anthropological study. If I didn’t have a thesis to write, I’d tackle both books and write an article about this (I’m fascinated by this stuff), but alas, I am currently married to early modern drama (as well as being actually married, which as you know takes its own kind of time commitment).

  4. Andrew

    As a small addendum: it would be interesting to know how the American publisher reads the AFA as a “moral fable.” Is this a linguistic strategy for containing the danger of erotic awakening?

    I should probably just read the book. 😐

    • lauratfrey

      I’m going to see if I can track someone down and ask. I am just so curious about this.

      You should! It was really good. Sort of… David Adams Richards light (I mean that less dismissively than it sounds.)

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