War and Peace (Book 2, Parts 1 and 2)

My copy of War and Peace fell to pieces on the train. I noticed that it was starting to look a little battered but I hadn’t expected it to disintegrate quite so spectacularly and at the worst possible moment like that. It’s now held together with elastic bands but after the holidays, when the shops aren’t so busy, I might finally go out and buy myself a new copy as I’ve been threatening to do for weeks. It’s probably about time.

Until then I’d been speeding quite rapidly through Book 2, which might explain why it felt like the most readable so far. It helps, of course, that there’s no military action to speak of in this one. It’s now the spring of 1806, there’s a lull in the war and the soldiers are all returning to their homes for a few short months of leave. There’s a lovely Rostov homecoming at the beginning followed quickly by a duel, a birth, a death, a proposal, a ball, a debt…. all unfolding in rapid succession. Since this one doesn’t switch suddenly to the Prussian front half way through, like in previous sections, it flows from one chapter to the next quite neatly and without interruption.

Because there were no big camp or battle scenes in Part 1 I half expected that the next one would switch back to the frontline but, no… Instead, Tolstoy jumps right on in with Pierre Bezukov’s musings on the meaning of life and then some (quite frankly, weird) chapters where he’s initiated into the Freemasons. It was at about this point that the Book fell to pieces, providing a welcome diversion when the book had taken quite an odd turn. Thankfully the Freemason chapters are quite short and I was relieved when the action eventually shifted back to the Bolksonskys, whom I always enjoy reading about. I don’t know why I love the Bolkonskys so much.

At the end of Part 2 I finally feel like I’m getting a clearer picture of Nicolai Rostov; which is a relief. Now that conditions at camp are deteriorating, and his friend Denisov is in real trouble, we’re seeing a better side to him I think. He still feels like the only character I’ve not really got to grips with yet… but there’s hope.

After today I’ll be off work until the new year so I’m hoping to make good headway with this book over the holidays (particularly after I’ve gone and purchased a new copy). In the meantime I’ll spend a few days stuffing my face with mince pies, wearing daft paper hats and watching Dad’s Army repeats on the telly…. so this will probably be my last post for a couple of days.

Have a merry Christmas everyone x

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