Lyra, I’d like to introduce you to Harry Potter, a wizard …

The thing that was so particularly exciting about our engagement party on Saturday, was all our friends being in one place at the same time. We’re going to get married – our lives are coming together – and part of that is our friends coming together too.

The bar was a blizzard of loved ones’ faces, from all different parts of our lives. It was such fun to introduce best friends from primary school to the fiancé’s friends from university, bringing people together who would otherwise probably never meet each other, but I felt sure would get on. It was like picking out different flavoured Jelly Beans and choosing which ones to eat at the same time – which combinations would taste good, even if the results might be somewhat unexpected.

I wonder what would happen if it could be done with books as well? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to take the different characters and introduce them to each other?

What would Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (always the first character to pop into my head), make of Forster’s Mrs Moore (in A Passage to India). I feel they’d get on. Although Mrs Moore would probably be slightly patronising about Mrs Dalloway’s obsession with her cocktail party.

And what if Pullman’s Lyra could meet Dickens’ Pip? I bet she’d make him get over Estella and go on some more adventures. If only they could meet soon after he steals the food for the convict, and Lyra could keep leading him down that route of mischief and fun and helping people in need, preventing him from being a society bore desperate to impress a spoilt little brat. Or Pip might fall in love with Lyra instead of Estella. They’d be a much better match.

And Lyra would also be a good influence on Harry Potter. She’d tell him to stop being such a self-absorbed angsty teenager and get on with saving the world. I’m sure Hermione would be quite protective about Lyra entering their group – she wouldn’t like another intelligent girl being around one little bit. But perhaps the competition would force her to make a play for Ron earlier on and we’d be spared several hundred pages of build up. And how would Mildred Hubble get on with them all?

Moving away from children (although I do think that this lot would be much more fun at a party than grown-ups), what if Strickland from Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence met Roark from Rand’s The Fountainhead? A determined young man who leaves his wife, children and whole life to try to become an artist, even though nobody likes his paintings, and another determined young man whose belief in his own modernist form of architecture is unshakeable – even when the tide of opinion is strongly against him. Would they give each other encouragement and strength?

Sadly I think they’re both too caught up in themselves to really care what some stranger at a party might say. Roark might be cross that someone else was trying to be a tortured impoverished artistic soul – and being one in Paris definitely beats being one in New York. But you never know, they might share a whisky and feel some kind of solidarity.

But I’m sure Ayn Rand would be seething! She’d see Strickland as a communist good-for-nothing and wouldn’t want Roark coming anywhere near such a boho.

But then Ayn Rand would have nothing to do with it. I suppose having a party and introducing all these different characters to each other would be the ultimate act to prove the power of the reader over the author. And, because everything would be fiction, absolutely anything at all could happen …


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