In the meantime, I had been toying with other ideas.
The Viennese Patient. Catchy enough but what about its significance? Bertha Pappenheim was undoubtedly Viennese - or was she? Her mother was born in Germany and her father in Hungary - but so too were most of the patients of early psychoanalysis. Bertha does not stand out particularly by virtue of her Viennese-ness. Once I'd realised this, the title lost its attraction for me.
I next considered Becoming Anna O. Incorporating Anna O into the title would make it meaningful to a wider range of readers and throw it up more frequently on Google searches. Then I discovered a book titled Becoming Anna. It's not a good idea to give a book a title which is the same as, or similar to, that of another book. Plus, this title was open to the same arguments made against the following one, suggested by a blog reader:
From Bertha P to Anna O.
I thought carefully about this one before deciding that it only covered part of the story. Yes, it summarises Bertha's passage from normal (for the time, place and social setting) young woman to patient treated for a multi-stranded medical condition as depicted by Breuer. But the novel goes beyond that, postulating more than is suggested in the case study and ending when Bertha is nearing the end of her later, and highly successful, professional life. I didn't want her identity to be subsumed into that of the case study.
At the same time I was thinking about the kind of artwork I'd like to see on the cover. That, along with the title, is crucial to getting a book noticed.
The first idea that came to mind was Klimt, a Viennese artist of about the same period is Bertha. I started looking at his paintings. Much as I liked them I felt that they were too well known and too 'strong' in a way which would risk eclipsing the image of the novel itself. Then I came across his sketches. I knew at once that here I would find something which encapsulated the essence of my story. Most of all it was the eroticism conveyed by many of his drawings of naked or semi-nude young women. It struck me that this, above all, is what my novel is about. I was reminded of what I wrote in my last post about Terri Marie's advice on choosing a title, that it was awaiting discovery and when recognized would instill you with confidence and catalyse the energy of the book - 'like a light shining through the window'. So it was with the Klimt sketches.
I hadn't realised until this point how important the undercurrents of eroticism in my novel are. I had seen it more as simply a many-faceted story. Now I can see that the main driving force is the steadily increasing erotic charge (albeit not always in guises which we would immediately recognise) which leads to the dramatic culmination - and points in turn to the choice of title which, on that basis, should probably be Guises of Desire.
The whole process of searching for title and artwork has been like subjecting the content of my novel to study under a microscope. It has homed in on what it is principally about, clarified it and enabled me to sum it up.