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What’s In A Title?


Watching tonight’s episode of The Great Allotment Challenge has reminded me, obscurely, of my favourite book title of all time; ‘Password To Larkspur Lane’, which is the tenth in Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew mysteries series. I loved these books as a child and always felt the titles were catchy and quite unusual and definitely played a big part in their appeal.
I’m reaching the final stage of writing my seventh novel and the new title is already decided. It’s something I settle upon right at the very start of the process. I don’t like to write a book without the title already in place and I rarely change it. But whenever I do consider what title to give my latest work, I can’t help reflecting on my all time favourites. Sometimes it’s difficult to say why a title appeals, it can be the image it invokes, or the promise of action and adventure. Occasionally, it can simply be the rhythm of the words or how they appear on the page. Perhaps these days we might be tempted to choose a title that is generic or contracted to a single word. Nah, I like something a bit different or unique. Otherwise it won’t stand the test of time.
Anyhow, here is my selection of some of the best, please feel free to add your own!

Password to Larkspur Lane by Carolyn Keene
A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundara
A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh / TS Eliot
The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time by Mark Hadden
A Dance To The Music of Time (series of books) by Anthony Powell, inspired by the painting of the same name by Nicolas Poussin
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

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