|(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)|
In the nineteenth century, inexpensive editions of Jane Austen’s novels targeted to Britain’s working classes were sold at railway stations, traded for soap wrappers, and awarded as school prizes. At just pennies a copy, these reprints were some of the earliest mass-market paperbacks, with Austen’s beloved stories squeezed into tight columns on thin, cheap paper. Few of these hard-lived bargain books survive, yet they made a substantial difference to Austen’s early readership. These were the books bought and read by ordinary people.
Packed with nearly 100 full-color photographs of dazzling, sometimes gaudy, sometimes tasteless covers, The Lost Books of Jane Austen is a unique history of these rare and forgotten Austen volumes. Such shoddy editions, Janine Barchas argues, were instrumental in bringing Austen’s work and reputation before the general public. Only by examining them can we grasp the chaotic range of Austen’s popular reach among working-class readers.
Informed by the author’s years of unconventional book hunting, The Lost Books of Jane Austen will surprise even the most ardent Janeite with glimpses of scruffy survivors that challenge the prevailing story of the author’s steady and genteel rise. Thoroughly innovative and occasionally irreverent, this book will appeal in equal measure to book historians, Austen fans, and scholars of literary celebrity.
What a book! Absolutely stunning! That cover - oh, my! I fell in deep with just the cover - how could I not?! And then I opened up the book and started flipping through the pages...WOW! I fell in even deeper. Yep, I was smitten. There were pages and pages of Austen's novels' covers and they were amazing. The colors, the print, the images, the various languages they had been translated in, and just the books themselves. It was magical to me. Yes, some of the covers were beyond hilarious and definitely not what I would expect for an Austen novel, but I loved those covers just the same. They were pulp fiction covers and they were the best. Of course, I'm a fan of those types of book covers - they just show a bit of history with their images and text. So, I thought it was brilliant that Janine Barchas created this awesome book about the history of Austen's published works - Barchas researched the way Austen's novels were published and how they were marketed. Its actually quite fascinating and I found myself enjoying learning all about it. I loved seeing the trajectory of Austen's popularity via book covers. Plus, I'm not going to lie, I am a huge fan of pulp fiction covers - they are the best! I always think they provide us with a glimpse of history - penny dreadfuls, dime novels, etc.. I always imagine those wire racks that spin chock full of novels by Vonnegut and King - two authors who's books were marketed in such a manner when publishers didn't know what to do with them (science fiction, horror - say what?!) So, I love the idea of Austen's novels bearing pulp fiction covers - so cool!
Barchas' book is truly a gem. I just know any fan of Austen's works will fall in love with The Lost Books Of Austen - how could they not? The research is impeccable, the writing is top notch, and the topic is fascinating. Overall, this makes for a must-read book. I would definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone looking for their next great read - you won't want to miss this one!
Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Lost Books Of Jane Austen