This is just a quick post – more of an introduction, really. Publishers Penguin have launched a new magazine, just for literature-lovers: The Happy Reader.
I chanced across a copy of the magazine in Waterstones (it was a bigger store, so I’m not sure if they’d sell them in smaller shops). A quarterly, the Winter 2014 edition focuses on two things: Dan Stevens and Wilkie Collins’ The Woman In White.
I remember when I read The Woman In White for the first time. We were on holiday and there was a battered old copy knocking around. I picked it up, imagining I would be bored by it; but after two chapters, I was totally, utterly hooked. (Which seems to be my reaction to Wilkie Collins typically: I found The Moonstone to be just as un-put-down-able.)
Anyway: if future copies are anything to go by, The Happy Reader is very much a tale of two halves, focussing on one key individual, and one key work. This first edition features a long, in-depth interview with actor and literature-lover Dan Stevens (he of Downton Abbey fame), paired with an in-depth analysis of the details of The Woman In White. It’s the defintion of creative: there’s a fashion shoot and a recipe, both inspired by the novel, as well as a look at how the Victoriana piece-by-piece stories (often serialised over a period of time) are comparable to today’s modern soaps.
The Woman In White is often described as one of the first English crime stories, and there is much to learn about this rich, absorbing story, all told via well-constructed, sometimes entertaining, mini essays. It’s a fascinating novel breakdown for the grown-up lit-lover, who is no longer reading for the sake of a course or a GCSE; rather, they are learning for pleasure.
The next edition will focus on The Book Of Tea, by Kakzuo Okakuro; the magazine has very much a book-group feel to it, encouraging readers to pick up a copy of the book before the next edition, and write in with their thoughts. I have a feeling the magazine will be tricky to pin down in my local suppliers so think I will subscribe; a year’s subscription (four editions) is a total barg, at just £8.
Who else has read it, and what did you think of it?