Bluebird: or the Invention of Happiness is a novel inspired by the diary of Henriette Lucy Dillon, who fled the French revolution and immigrated to America. Like Henriette, the novel’s heroin has a marvelous education and the rarified sophistication of the French aristocracy. Her mother was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette.

Having decided that an 18th century French painting would be suit the work perfectly, I looked at a number of options and originally preferred the work of Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. Unfortunately, all of my favorites belonged to private collections and securing reproduction rights proved to be too complicated. Since the heroin Irish relatives, I turned to the work of Thomas Gainsborough, which was suitably historical but lacked the appropriate touch. Finally, I settled upon a work by George Romney in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The style and feel of the painting I selected seemed to match the novel perfectly, justifying to the editors and marketers the rather steep fee charged by the Met. The Audubon birds I added as a play on the associations of the title, the 18th century, and French heritage. Audubon’s own story has certain similarities with the heroin’s. The small boat on the front flap is an image of the Diana, the ship on which Henriette actually made her journey to America.