Have you ever wished you could transcend the pages of your favourite book, to reach out to your beloved fictional characters?

Often, we want to extend a hand, stand ready for an embrace, or tell them to stop what they’re doing immediately. But what if you could gift them something tangible? Have a parcel appear in front of them containing what we think they might need, or most desire: perhaps a couple bars of chocolate for Orwell’s young Winston Smith, or some Jane Austen instead of Shakespeare for Huxley’s impressionable savage?

Here at Penguin, we wondered: What if we could be secret Santas to a bunch of our favourite fictional characters, with no limit on price or triviality? Some gifts may shift the path of an entire story, and others may only resolve the conflict of a single page, but it's the thought that counts, right?

A Gatsby-saving holiday for The Great Gatsby's Nick Carraway

For Nick, we're gifting a ticket to France to spend some time along the French Riviera, so that he doesn’t meet Gatsby and become the catalyst which leads to his death. It would also give him enough material to write a different, though probably equally entertaining, book about the highs and lows of glamour and excess.

The City of Light for Kitty Pong/Tai/Bing from Crazy Rich Asians

She wants the world; what if we could give Kitty Pong/Tai/Bing the city of Paris? For someone who’s always trying to fit in with the old-money Singaporean crew and never quite achieving it, owning Paris would certainly give her a leg up . The circle of ladies who’d previously turned their noses up at her would suddenly be forced to start sucking up to her as owner of a city that is home to some of the world’s best ateliers – lest they want to be seen in sub-par haute couture (which for them might just be a fate worse than death).

A healthy cookbook for the Blackwood Household from We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We're sending a sugar-free cookbook to the Blackwood household – specifically, Mary Katherine, or ‘Merricat’, the youngest Blackwood – which would inspire the whole family to go on a frenzied health binge, throwing out the sweet stuff in the process. As a result, sugar bowls are banned from the table, and with them the source of Merricat’s lethal poison.

A football for the boys of Lord of The Flies

Any armchair philosopher can tell you that humankind has sublimated its most violent, warlike tendences into sports. Think about it: we dress ourselves in the colours of our local tribes, and go to see our club ‘decimate’ theirs. So if we’re pulling names for Literary Secret Santa and get Ralph, Jack, Piggy, Simon or any other kid on the island, first thing we’re doing is sending a football their way. If it just ends up punctured atop a pike? Well, you can’t say we didn’t try.

A safe for Little Women's Jo March

The burning of Jo March’s manuscript by her youngest sister Amy led to a whole lot of heartache in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. And it caused a rift between the sisters so bad that Amy almost died after falling into an icy pond. So we're getting Jo a safe. It sounds pretty boring, but if Jo had a safe, she’d have had somewhere to lock away her manuscript, instead of just leaving it around for Amy to find. And who knows? If the manuscript had never burned, maybe Jo would have ended up with Laurie, the way it was meant to be.

What did you think of this article? Email editor@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk and let us know.

Image: Alicia Fernandes / Penguin.

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