Between the Covers 08/09/2013

What's really going on in the world of books

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The Independent Culture

Those of us who are familiar with the literary PR company Midas have been amused and slightly freaked out a new photograph. Taken to promote bookshops in the Books Are One's Bag campaign (a new and more upmarket extension of, which launches with parties at bookshops around the country on Saturday), it appears to show Midas's staff dressed up as the Royal Family. Unless, that is, it shows the real royals nipping out to their local independent bookstore, but they don't strike us as big readers .... At the risk of getting them all hanged for treason, the photograph shows, from left to right: Felicity Denham (last seen by Covers shivering in the freezing cold press tent at the Hay Literary Festival), Becky Short, Daniel Freeman, Tory Lyne-Pirkis (who knows the rules of polo and makes a freakishly good Queen), Steven Williams (CEO), Fiona Marsh and Tony Mulliken (chairman, aka the Prince of Wales).

Between the Covers is reserving judgement about Sophie Hannah's new novel starring Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, which will be set in the late 1920s. But judgement has been cast on the recent trend for so-called mash-up novels, which give classics a new, genre-fiction flavour. The latest to drop into our inbox is a new version of Sense & Sensibility "with a twist" (of course), which is described as "exactly the sort of novel we would expect from Jane Austen ... if she had lived in a world of magic." A crime against classic fiction that would horrify the fastidious Belgian detective.


Bill Bryson has written and recorded an exclusive short story to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital's Love Hearts Appeal. The story can be downloaded for free from, which will donate 50p to the charity for each copy downloaded. The 12-minute story is about being hit on the head by an automatic parking barrier, and describes exquisitely Bryson's "genius for painful outcomes": he claims to have "sat in more collapsing chairs ... than any other person alive". Grab a biscuit and a quiet spot and find it at