The blog has been rather quiet lately, I have been reading I just still haven’t quite found my writing mojo plus my new (and new but less so) jobs are really taking it out of me. The days are really long and during my weekends I just want to curl up on the sofa and read. I do have at least one review scheduled for this week, plus this is the winter break week at school number 2 so I have some more free time. I hope to write some more during the day today and during the week.
I have been keeping up with reading War & Peace though. Or at least I think I have. I’m no longer reading a chapter a day for the simple reason that some days I am simply to tired to focus on this book. Add to that the fact that I find that I am better able to concentrate on larger chunks. I have finished Volume One (I managed that last weekend) and so I thought it was time to write up my thoughts so far.
Once I got a handle on the different characters I really enjoyed Part 1. I really felt as if I was in the salons of Tsarist Russia. The one problem I had (apart from the fact that each character seems to have two gazillion names) is the fact that this particular point in history is not my strong suit. Ask me about Russian history a few years later then I can play but Napoleon, not my thing. This made some of the discussions hard to follow. And it was also what lead to my problems with Part 2.
Part 2 follows primarily the younger male characters of the book when they go off to war. And boy did you lose me here. The characters have different names and they come and go and oh my I was confused. Then we have the geography of central Europe, or at least I think that is where they are. I had no clue. So confused.
Part 3 was a bit better. There is more of a mixture between Russia and the Russian troops. I thought the ideas around the love the troops felt for the tsar were really really interesting. The idea that those who are left behind, as much as you love them, become very distant is one that often explored in literature about wars, but I had yet to read anything about the love for the commander. Rostov behaves like a teenage girl with a crush when he is asked to deliver a message to the tsar.
Tolstoy definitely picks up on some interesting themes in this book. The conflict that seems to exist when one does what is expected of you by society contra what you would actually like to do. Societies expectation causes Princess Marya a great deal of heartache as well as her companion. Although I have to say I found THAT storyline to be borderline silly. And actually that, coupled with the portrayal of The Little Princess, made me wonder if Tolstoy actually understood women. I am intrigued by this in light of the reading of A Vindication on the Rights of Woman last month. The view of women as silly seems pervasive at the time.
I am really enjoying this book and am ready to dive into Volume 2.