Although War and Peace may be one of the novels most of us have lied about reading, it seems this is set to change, as the book has entered the UK’s bestselling book charts for the first time.
According to the Bookseller, the BBC edition of the novel sold over 3500 copies last week, putting it in 50th place in the charts – the first time the novel has made the top 50 since Nielsen BookScan’s records began in 1998.
Although only 4% of Britons have actually read War and Peace, according to YouGov, the BBC’s recent televised adaptation of Tolstoy’s 1300 page epic seems to have captured the public’s interest, and encouraged thousands of Britons to pick up the original text.
Waterstones buyer Joseph Knobbs said that it wasn’t just the BBC’s edition of the novel that was flying off the shelves: “Judging by our recent sales … an awful lot of people have finally crossed this classic off their must-read list. Four different editions of the book have hit our bestseller list, shifting an almost equal number of copies each.”
Book publisher Wordsworth Editions also reported an increase in sales of its edition following the airing of the BBC’s TV series. The publisher said it had sold over 3000 copies since the first episode of the television adaptation – putting its edition into the top 20 of the Bookseller’s small publisher charts.
As well as attracting praise from critics and viewers for its fast pace, heaving bosoms, flashing sabres, and pouty attractive actors, (as well as having a decent script and solid direction), the BBC’s adaptation seems to have been successful for another key reason: Paul Dano.
Social media – especially Twitter – erupted with praise for Dano, with Fearne Cotton (among countless others) calling him “completely captivating” in his role as Pierre Bezukhov. It is perhaps in part down to Dano’s success here that Tolstoy’s epic has finally made it onto the bestselling book charts. Indeed, as Dano’s Pierre took his delicate time savouring a potato, you could almost hear the sound of people rushing to bookstores to buy their own copy of War and Peace.
In looking to answer that age old question of whether Paul Dano is better or worse than 1300 Russians, it seems on the basis of this evidence that an early victory lies with Dano.