The Annoying Book Title’s Daughter: the three questions those repetitive titles force you to ask

Book Thoughts, Writing, Writing Thoughts

I’m sure these days every third book or so follows this simple formula for a title.

Honestly. The Taxidermist’s Daughter. The Time-Traveller’s Wife. The Pirate’s Daughter. The Firework Maker’s Daughter. The Photographer’s Wife. The Gravedigger’s Daughter. The Alchemist’s Daughter.

I find it extremely annoying… and yet still these titles draw me in. I think they work because they make you immediately ask these three questions:

1. Why is it important that there is a (career title, preferably to do with death and male by inference) in this book?

2. What would it be like to be the (relation title, preferably female and traditionally dependent) of a (career title)?

3. How will the (career title) have an effect on the course of the (relation title)’s life?

So though they’re pretty annoying and I wish people would stop doing them, they’re pretty effective.

I’m holding out hope for The Assassin’s Great Aunt or The Poisoner’s Step-Niece to hit the bookshops soon.

3 thoughts on “The Annoying Book Title’s Daughter: the three questions those repetitive titles force you to ask

  1. Would it work as well to have [Career Female] [male relative]? That’s a title type underused at the moment. We’d have to go back to using gendered career titles for the title to make it clear in all cases that the career person was female, unless the male relation was a spouse and even then…someone would be sure to think “The Aerospace Engineer’s Husband” was a story about gay marriage and not about the man with political ambitions who tries to leverage his wife’s technical expertise to get himself selected for astronaut training (which will look great when he’s running for high office .) “The Nurse’s Son” would imply a female nurse…maybe. “The Kindergarten Teacher’s Nephew”…maybe. But they don’t zing. Nobody’s going to find the son or nephew interesting just because Mom was a nurse or kindergarten teacher (unless maybe that was her cover and she was actually a secret agent or a serial killer or a world class musician who had given up her art to serve humanity. But then…aside from a title….does the book actually have to be about a relationship between the first character and the second? Hmmm. Maybe not. “My Aunt Jo was a kindergarten teacher…and that’s all you need to know about that. That’s all I know about her–we lived on another continent–but MY life is infinitely more interesting than hers was, so let me tell you about that day in school when Benny Jones socked me in the eye…” (From a book that could more accurately have been titled, “Diary of a Self-involved, Not-Very-Bright Teenage Boy with a Peter Pan Complex” or “I’ll Never Grow Up and You Can’t Make Me.”

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