October 06, 2010

books with new names

  • About the author EB

Delayed at the airport on Monday, with one book finished (The Boys in the Trees by Mary Swan, so excellent), and another started and not liked very much (and so it shall remain nameless), I headed to the bookstore to pick out something new. I had been up since before dawn and wanted something engrossing yet not emotionally heavy, something that would keep me awake until I got home.

I picked out Sophie Hannah’s The Dead Lie Down, and I haven’t regretted it so far. I hate to call a book “unputdownable” because a) it’s not a real word and b) you can put anything down if you have to, but this one comes pretty close. If you like Kate Atkinson, Laura Lippman, Tana French, etc etc, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t like it. (and as a side note: aside from Lippman, who are some other American female authors who write books like this? I would love to know, because I will read them.)

One thing I noticed on the cover of the book was tiny print telling me that in the UK, The Dead Lie Down was published as The Other Half Lives. I can understand why they changed it—I’m not sure if the phrase “how the other half lives” is used as much in the UK, but it would be the first thing anyone thought of here, and that’s not the meaning that the phrase has in the book. But looking on Sophie Hannah’s website, I can see that her US publishers have changed other titles of hers too. A Room Swept White will be The Cradle in the Grave. The Point of Rescue became The Wrong Mother. Hurting Distance became The Truth-Teller’s Lie. So I started wondering why the changes, and tried to think of other novels whose titles had changed, either between UK and US publication or between hardcover and paperback. Can you think of any?