Read Dates: Laline Paull and Lord Asriel

This month our blog theme is ‘Love in All its Forms’ – we’re celebrating the diverse ways in which love is depicted in literature – so we asked our authors to tell us who their dream fictional date would be. Laline Paull would hop into a hot air balloon with Lord Asriel from Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ and fly to a party in West Egg, New York…


‘Lord Asriel of Jordan College, Oxford, sent Stelmaria (his snow-leopard daemon) to leap through my window with a very persuasive request I accompany him to Jay Gatsby’s un-birthday party, set to rage in West Egg, 1925. He knows Jay and I have been friends for ever, and how much Jay wants him to drop in, so I said yes. Stelmaria also had me fixed in her blazing gaze, which helped me decide. And of course that gorgeous emerald he sent me last week, still nestled in its lump of Brazilian rock, might have played a tiny part. So it’s a yes, and Mrs Coulter will just have to accept that. He says she’ll be ‘absolutely fine’ about us – but even the most brilliant men who can travel through time and all that, are astonishingly naïve about women. Especially that sort. I’m just hoping she’s still having fun with that strange Romanian aristocrat who hangs around her, Vlad someone or other. OK, he flies up walls. Big deal.

But it’s settled, I’m going, and as time and distance are clearly no object, I’ve already asked that lovely Charlie Worth to send me something wild and gorgeous to wear, inspired by one of his ladies at Versailles. Do you remember him? Short, really sweet, and we always wondered if he was – no no, absolutely not, he’s married now, children and everything. Hasn’t he done amazingly well, pulling himself up by his little Lincolnshire bootstraps, to dress the court of France? Invented modeling and everything. He’d be appalled at the poor little workhouse girls they use now. But anyway, that’s my frock sorted, and I believe transport will be by balloon. No, not cold at all, because of the jets, and probably the champage we’ll be drinking. Won’t it be fun, coming down in the middle of the lawn, with the party all around us? Perhaps we can aim for that sexist pig Tom Buchanan, that’d please Jay. Here’s a case of vintage champagne, and we’ve also squashed your love rival. Mwah!

Overnight arrangements? That’s rather indelicate of you. Let’s just say that I am prepared for all eventualities.’

Laline Paull is the author of ‘The Bees‘, out now in paperback.

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