Between The Covers: 10/04/2011

Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books

While some of us would be happy just to get round to writing a novel, some people want to have all the careers at once.

That's you, Michelle Gayle. Her new novel, Pride and Premiership (Walker Books, £6.99), was inspired when she read that two out of three girls' ideal futures involve marrying a footballer, says Michelle, the actress, singer, Loose Women presenter and, err, former WAG. As you'd expect from Hattie from EastEnders, Gayle is a smart cookie, and her "super-relevant modern take on Austen's classic" has the message: "We're not in the 19th century now girls, you don't need to rely on Mr Darcy to save the day and it really is possible to have it all." (Steady on, Michelle – how about having some, and leaving a bit for the rest of us?) The novel is published this Friday for mobile phones, and on 5 May in paperback.

***

The nice people in Hull who are commemorating the 25th anniversary of Philip Larkin's death with a 25-week celebration of his life and work will be officially opening the Larkin Trail in the city this Easter – not, perversely, at Whitsun. The tour will guide visitors around 25 significant sites in Larkin's "town that lets you write", with the help of a podcast, apps and a specially-designed GPS system. What would Larkin have made of that? It will be launched at the Hull Royal Hotel on Wednesday 20 April, and more details are available at www.larkin25.co.uk.

***

Publishing a book happens about as slowly as having a baby, so after a suitable gestational period, expect a sudden trend for literary fiction set in north Devon. Why? "No sooner has my novel about Topsham come out than Johnny Depp buys a house there," writes an excited Philip Hensher on Facebook. "Surely in line for the lead in the movie, no?" A number of high profile writers have replied, including Amanda Craig, who writes: "And strangely, I have a (pop) star living in my Devon novel ..." Mr Depp had better get working on his Devon accent, and beware of stalkerish novelists when he pops down to Topsham Country Cheeses.

***

Good news from one independent bookshop, after book sales nationally in March slumped 8.7 per cent year-on-year. Last month, The Big Green Bookshop, in Wood Green, north London, created a "struggleometer" on its website and appealed to its customers to buy one extra book each to help the shop survive. Now, it has announced that sales have rocketed by 45 per cent, year-on-year, and that it has reached 96 per cent of its target. The message to fans of independent local bookshops: use 'em or lose 'em.

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